交陪_1_4

時間───2015年4月30日
受訪人───李俊陽
參訪人───龔卓軍、陳冠彰、陳莘、羅文岑、林雅雯
地點───李俊陽住家

整理───龔卓軍
翻譯───劉婕、王莉雰、藍文婷

大眾美學與混搭文化的養成背景

我是臺東市區出生的,也住過關山、池上、玉里、光復。我爸爸是畫看板的。電影看板,以前有一種是在城市裡面固定的看板店,另一種是流浪藝人,我爸爸就是屬於後者。他以前都在東部縱谷線,一直畫到花蓮。父親去世後,我們就留在花蓮光復,那邊是馬太鞍,一個大部分是原住民的地方。所以從小我接觸的就是所謂的大眾美學。
以前是一家公司全包,叫「青山綜藝美術社」,廟宇彩繪、民間看板、電影廣告、代客寫字、春聯、畫人像……什麼都有,只要是有關於大眾美學的,就都接受。那個時候東部小孩,只要是後來還在做創作的,其實都有經過一段美學過程,且一定是大眾美學。因為我們比較是屬於宗教類的,拜師一定是閩南人。所以不管後來是畫電影看板或是綜藝,他的信仰就是跟閩南人比較接近,就是一般所謂的道教、佛教這樣的彩繪線條或圖像。那時候認為當學徒,就是要能把這些東西畫好,「畫好」會有一個標準,就是工藝,工藝美學。
另外我們現今在談殖民這件事情時,裡面也有一個很重要的線索,就像我們流的血統就是混搭嘛,我自己是平埔,但是所受的文化大部分來自客家,然後閩南的、然後大陸的。只是說從民國三十幾年國民政府來臺,很多外省的人來的時候才產生一個很大的變化。
所以談文化的時候,不要一直在視覺裡面轉。因為我覺得信仰跟創作之間,也不只是拜什麼神啦,比如說像我就是混搭、混撞,從以前就是什麼都畫,就是抄圖工。抄圖工就是有人拿個米開朗基羅(Michelangelo)的作品說要讓我抄,又說要放在中友百貨當商業壁畫,我也把它抄出來了。或是像在學校,老師說這個攝影要這樣子拍,那我們就去學,所以人類從語言學舌,包括畫畫也有學舌,要不然寫書法幹嘛臨那些古碑,至於畫廟時候的圖稿,就是傳說中的武林祕笈啦。
以前畫電影看板的時候還更有趣,還有色彩配置法,比如說這是伊士曼色彩(Eastman Color),就是底片規格的演變,其實它也影響了畫法的演變。各家都有。有南部系統,也有北部系統。我剛好就很好運,當我跑來臺中學畫看板的時候,我們公司有五位老師包括自己四叔和其結拜兩兄弟,而我哥哥也和我一起學,系統完全不同。因為電影看板是日本人帶過來的,以前我師傅的師傅,都是日本人。當時有一個人很怪咖,叫陳子福,電影資料館時常會展他的海報。他就是承襲了中國水墨的那種瀟灑,之後影響了鄭問。
如果你懂那個脈絡的線索,就會發現那個脈絡與承傳,就像在看書法,這個人寫什麼體的,歐體入骨,顏的骨、歐的型……就這樣子看。至於廟宇畫法,比如說,我的派別是羅東派的。我做的布袋戲偶,最早是從泉州的尪仔開始來的。1998年我就辦了一個展覽,那是四齣尪仔戲,都是臺灣民間故事。原因就是我覺得那時布袋戲裡面所有的戲碼,都沒有臺灣民間故事,都是《三國演義》、《封神榜》,一直到金光戲的時候也沒有這樣的戲種,有趣的是,我刻這些尪仔一直到現在都還沒上台過,因為他們這些戲班都沒有劇本。

追求自由、反對既有體制的生命創作

承接電影看板,又承接廟宇彩繪,其實對我影響很大。因為我好奇,對於所謂的畫畫這件事情、視覺的這些東西都感到非常好奇。後來為什麼不是開一家看板社,而變成去創作呢?我剛好就是屬於那種學完之後不想工作,想要一直研究一些不同的東西的人。所以後來電影看板就交給我哥哥去做。
從二十號倉庫駐村開始,我確定要做廟。那時候本來是《七彩迷魂車》,後來改成《七彩迷魂妙》,所以後來簽名都簽妙公。我又不想用那個「廟」,所以是奇妙的「妙」,或是老子「眾妙之門」那個「妙」。其實是蠻有意識的要往臺灣民間的一些底層的創作可能去發掘,所以也跟「金枝演社」合作,包括語言系統的重造。
因為好像大家開始認定:「俊陽他就是做布袋戲的」,但我不想把它變成工作,雖然刻了那麼多布袋戲偶,但不想變成民間工藝師,就開始做自由創作,開始有一堆比較嬉皮的概念出來,其實是想要反對既有的體制。
我最近在想:為什麼現代藝術一定就是重複與量化,難道沒有其他的可能?我們在民間工藝裡也看見一種叫保留民間文化,就是唱戲的把本背熟再傳給下一個人,但是他不能創作,就算創作也是稍微再加些東西而已,那個主線是不能不見的。工藝師就是這樣,整群,好像學院一樣。但因為我想要保有自由之身,所以就不參加畫會,不參加任何的團體。
民間的東西其實我後來就是抓了幾個我比較想要談的,一個是關於「靈」。我只做同樣一件事情。有點像跑步,你在跑步,腦袋一直在飛,或是腦袋又再空、又再進來。我後來發現創作的很多時空,自己一個人嘛,就一直想下去,然後這個東西其實是因為後來更了解自己的狀態。為什麼忽然講靈,因為我是學星座的,所以就會去討論三種結構,所謂三位一體:物質、精神、靈魂,就像我們現在不管傳統藝術或現代藝術創作,它直接要再回歸到創作者本身。今天我們要去討論這個藝術家的時候,我們可能要把工業化先拿掉,然後去討論他個人,所以我更想了解,或是說對你們這個策展的期待,反而是個人與信仰的問題,而不是團隊。就這一點來說,大眾美學跟藝術之間產生了一個絕對的差異。像我畫一些東西,不像也沒關係,這個是豢養個人的世界嘛,喜歡就喜歡,不喜歡拉倒,反正就不要看而已。
後來,我為什麼要做《七彩迷魂妙》?我最早做創作其實都是跟生命有關,就是說我這個命,現在狀況適合畫什麼樣的圖。這不是能力的問題,因為可能早上有一個人找我幫他畫咖啡廳,他說要畫那個可愛的鄉村,那因為他喜歡。他叫我畫,我就畫了一個很可愛的鄉村,然後就領五千塊回來交給老婆,然後晚上我要創作,我就畫一個恐怖的雞巴。這樣的人格一直存在我的身體很久,因為我覺得那時我很窮,每天撿破爛,當時的人格適合畫那種圖,我畫出來就會覺得這樣比較真實。但是另外一個人格是白天,因為受人所託,就像設計一樣受人所託,然後我可以用對方的能量,畫他要的東西,我服務於他。
回到個體的宗教經驗來談。有一次我去大港口,碰到一位原住民牧師。原住民其實有兩個面向,一個是給觀光客看的,就是傳統原住民舞蹈;然後另外一個,只有耆老參加而已,也不能有女人喔,它是不開放的。當然這就是一個很有趣的東西,你不能排斥所謂的大眾的意思,譬如現在流行觀光,像大甲迎媽祖,它畢竟帶出一些產值,你不迎媽祖的話,我今年餅做了沒人買啊,我的糖果沒人買。整個大量湧入的人潮,它會造就商機嘛。所以這個能量在我們的政治跟宗教也產生了一種所謂發展觀光的共識,而且是各縣市皆然,這個東西我們不能去排斥。但我們要談的東西或許跟它有點不一樣,我們要證明這個不一樣的體驗是存在的。這只能在個體的生活方式中證明。

存在的時間感.素人的直覺思維

我最關注的就是時間,時間它意味著什麼,意味著宇宙。我以前專門為人縫作嫁衣裳,花了太多時間在年輕歲月畫看板。漸漸體悟到這一點,是在金枝演社《浮浪貢開花》之前,《祭特洛伊》我又畫了一次,那是2003年的時候。在那之後,我就開始不幫人做事了。後來即使有去演戲,都是短短的時間,去玩一玩,也就是說,我現在的狀況會覺得比較想要自己一個人啦。這樣,就變成時間比較完全屬於我個人。
從1995年「逝去情境與新生命的來臨」第一個個展、「百花齊放大度山人文工作者群展」,到1997年的《七彩迷魂轎》,我也在那一年離婚,那時當兵剛退伍,對創作、藝術抱持很大的想像。因為我會想像的一個世界是,比如以家庭來說,如果老婆小孩也都離開了,我還要用這種方式創作嗎?所以那個時候就弄這個啊,《七彩迷魂車》。《七彩迷魂車》就是開著一輛車四處走,開始變嬉皮就是了。因為那時候就有很多朋友,從藝術街混到遠東街,和一些嬉皮咖玩藥,所以也不避諱啦。那幾年我都在玩藥。去春吶跟外國人呼阿什麼這樣子,但是後來就比較有嬉皮感的狀況出來,之後有一、兩年我根本沒在創作,到二十號倉庫的時候才開始慢慢脫離那些狀態,真正的再回來。
當創作時間拉長的時候,是不是很多創作者也會跟我有一樣的狀況,上也不上、下也不下。我現在是不會啦,但是曾有一段時間會這樣,其實如果真的要純粹講一直在創作這件事情,沒有跳開好像真的沒辦法一直下去。像阿才(本名陳明才)的婚禮,那時候我就開那輛三輪車載他去結婚。他離婚我也跟去,因為我要演檳榔西施,我們辦了一個離婚展,真的是跑到戶政事務所,那時候很多新聞都覺得我們這幾個很奇怪。後來,洪易又在1999年設計了「黃金教堂」PUB,做人體彩繪,那時候,哇,連續三個月都在看妹妹。
應該這麼說啦,阿才那時從臺北下來,就說:「我也要來畫圖」。他去找洪易,洪易就把他帶來我家說:「這裡也有一個畫圖的」。他就很喜歡我這種人,不但刻布袋戲偶又這樣亂畫。其實,他也默默地感覺到我們都是屬於邊緣的存在,而且我們這種邊緣,都是本身很有實力的邊緣。比如說我畫看板很厲害,刻布袋戲偶很厲害,然後馬上就可以進入主流,卻竟然又不做。他也是這樣。已經在1988年導完賴聲川的戲《開放配偶,非常開放》,其實他可以平步青雲一直上去,但為什麼要下來,搞優劇場的《七彩溪水落地掃》,然後去玩這個結婚、離婚的過程。我跟阿才對於這個環境比較有一些敏感的看法,因為這個環境哪裡能走、哪裡不能走,絕對要走自己的,我們有自己的感覺,所以那時候找演員他找的都是素人,我們就是用很直覺的方式演。這也為什麼我很喜歡跨界的原因,不是說要跨界去爭取什麼不同的概念,而是可以變素人耶,好好喔!
從二十號倉庫那一次,2000年的「絕地逢生:黑色筆祭」,我開始用傾向儀式跟行為的方式在做。因為我相信一件事情,如果很單純的一直在創作、創作、創作,或是畫畫、做某件事情,這個靜態的東西會變成一個顯性的東西,包括說藝術家做了那麼多作品,他為什麼要show,不然愛畫畫,畫完就結束了嘛,為什麼要展覽?就好像說你們平常很愛藝術,然後看完作品就好了,幹嘛還看完之後有感覺,然後最後還要策展?因為它就是一個show嘛。到底它是一個教育功能,或它是一個show的自我存在感的焦慮,而產生我要show?這都可以去探討。
2005年,我開始刻篆刻、寫篆書,然後臨帖,這又回到我年輕的時候,畫看板然後也畫廟,臨帖、照描、照寫。《石門頌》、《蘭亭序》,或是蘇東坡《赤壁賦》,反正大家都說它們不錯,也真的不錯。臨帖,也不是說要把這個作品發展到哪裡去,而是說它讓我後來做東西的時候定力會好一點。這裡也說明一件事情,工藝基礎所培養的定力絕對比一般我們像嬉皮這樣子亂玩還要更好。
從行為到後來的轉變,可以在2011年底在白屋的「仙仙仙,福浪共開花──妙工俊陽展」看到,這個展覽中有很多微觀性的小東西,先前大部分都沒有人要展這種小物件。這類小物件也是我從過去到現在持續累積在做的。同時,我以前畫看板,還有大量的筆記簿小繪畫,所以在北美館2014年「未明的雲朵」展出的那個《妙》,我就展了很多素描。我把這些素描都想成是廟裡面的籤或圖懺,從這個展覽開始,我也著手嘗試利用素描、筆記簿去佈置出個人的儀式空間。
回到我最早在做工藝的狀況來看,這整個生命辯證的過程裡面,最後還真的蠻覺得自己就是在抗拒各個方面的定位或收編,就像那個青山美術綜藝社。

畫法是形式,性格與心態造就風格

再回到我所經歷的電影海報演變史。從最早印刷的版畫性,到照片的、分色的系統,最後請藝師去畫電影看板的海報,是段很奇妙的過程。那位師傅就是我先前說的陳子福。當時,陳子福畫了一張海報,全省看板師傅就要照著那張海報畫。這一路走來,到現在整個規格由電影公司出版,然後設計海報,最後直接印刷。
原本電影看板的畫法在中部地區是比較古典的,像臺中他們在畫的顏色也都比較沒有那麼鮮豔。為什麼呢?那個畫法就是,譬如電影《兩個油漆匠》、侯孝賢的《戀戀風塵》,看板因為掛得四、五樓高,所以會有一個審美距離,是為了遠看而形成的畫法。遠看的時候,五樓以上,有的眼睛八角,有的畫成六角,如果畫圓的,就會鈍鈍的,這是沒有角度的結果。所以在畫分線的時候,角度就要出來,遠看才會順。如果是要給近看用的,就要畫得綿,像古典油畫那樣,就是很細的感覺,因為它要更近看。所以這就有一個眉角,到底什麼叫大畫?大畫究竟是小張組起來的大畫,或者是它本身就是大畫的畫法。
大畫有一個人畫得很好,就是黃進河。他畫的最大的畫,都在顏春榮那裡。他的風格有點像印門朵夫(Jörg Immendorff)的那種德國底層的畫派,整坨顏料啪啪啪上去。作品有九百號的啊!那整坨,近看都是顏料,一塌糊塗,遠看青山綠水,那個就是大畫。跟廟繪的彩繪系統又不一樣。廟繪都是細的,廣告電影看板、大眾廣告媒體就是要遠看,因為這件事存在我的學習系統裡,所以我就很清楚。廟繪使用到撇筆的,只有在一個地方,就是在畫水墨的線條時才用到,不然它都是要很平穩,像畫唐卡那樣。
所以畫法對創作者來說有時候就像一種形式。就像說如果你是黃俊雄,是不是要演各種角色,那各種角色是不是就要用各種口音,所以,你就要去體會那些不同的口音。我後來會變成《七彩迷魂妙》,可能就是我覺得自己真的沒有辦法純粹,就只好亂中取亂。像之前在做那個《七彩迷魂轎》,大家都覺得我是洪通,我自己覺得根本不是,如果要學院的東西,我也很厲害啊,我也會畫得跟古典油畫一樣,問題都不是畫法,而是性格。
所以我一直覺得,我比較像是跟著生命的流程一直轉、一直轉,所以到後來我才會覺得自己像浮浪貢,當然畫廊也不想抓住我這種人,因為不會賺錢啊!畫廊要的就是要你乖乖畫這個然後不能變,這樣好行銷嘛。有人說這是一種做仙的狀態,這或許就是我生命的一個理想。因為,我覺得這樣子能夠接收到更不一樣的訊息,反過來說,這樣子的看法,也會讓我犧牲很多可能有的機會。最後,我的朋友群也會不一樣。就不會有那種穿得人模人樣的人來煩,來的人可能就是喜歡聊生命、聊藝術的。
因為我們是練過的人,知道再怎麼笨的人,三年都可以學一樣東西到外面賣,而且還可以賣得不錯。所以要跟師傅做學徒就是三年六個月嘛!那意味著什麼?一個人在生命中可以學習各種東西,到最後要怎麼混搭都可以,只是說要能感受素人時候的那種新鮮感,那叫生啦!為什麼從古代,明清文人、劉鶚這些人那麼喜歡研究古碑,因為,對他們來說,臨的過程很感動,因為它們是完全不同的東西,所以他們臨各家字體,體會中間差異的感覺。如果要走純粹一路,就寫一種字體就好了,臨各家字體幹嘛?當然,臨完之後,又要變成自己的東西,依據個人的能量,跟隨本身對自我的認識,如果很清楚自己要追尋什麼,去臨各種東西的過程就都會很清楚。
所以,東方在談臨帖,跟西方人在談生命潛意識,是完全不同路的。只有在巴洛克時代學徒制那時候,可以理解臨的必要,因為那時大家都在臨聖像。差別只在於米開朗基羅畫的跟達文西(Leonardo da Vinci)畫的不一樣。到最後還是會回到心態。我們很容易誤解信仰就是拜神,然後就沒有自由,但依我的概念,在信仰中還有很多自由。不是說信仰都不能變、不能怎麼樣。
對我來說,如果談對生命的信仰跟忠誠是可以的,但不要騙人。它是學習的過程,但是不代表我學習中的變化就是在騙人。主要就是心態問題,即使是學舌又如何?我們如果去看一件作品,它如果表面好像很純粹,但是背後可能沒有那麼純粹,那又怎麼辦?比如說你看到一個人的作品,哇,很棒很棒,但人不怎麼樣,根本沒有那個信仰,那怎麼辦?那對他自己而言,只是在模仿一個曾經成功的路數而已,根本談不上有什麼信仰。


 

Attitude Matters, Techniques Don’t
──── Jiun-yang Li

Time: April 30, 2015
Interviewee: Jiun-yang Li
Interviewers and Guests: Jow-jiun Gong, Guan-jhang Chen, Hsin Chen, Mirr Lo, Juliet Lin
Location: Li’s house

Compiled by Jow-jiun Gong
Translated by Jei Liu, Li-fen Wang, Wen-ting Lan

Being Cultivated in Popular Aesthetics and Art of Mixture

I was born in Taitung City and have lived in Guanshan, Chihshang, Yuli and Guangfu. My father was a poster painter for movies. There were two kinds of poster painters, one worked for poster stores in cities, and the other travelled about. My father belonged to the latter. His cases scattered along the Rift Valley and reached Hualien. After my father passed away, we stayed in Guangfu, also known as Vataan where aboriginals are the majority. So I’ve been involving with popular aesthetics since I was little.
There used to be a variety store called “Chin Shan” whose cases were all about popular aesthetics, such as temple paintings, signage, movie posters, ads, calligraphy, spring couplets, portraits, etc. Therefore, children who lived in the east then had been cultivated in popular aesthetics. Our arts are more religious, so our teachers were Minnanese. Whether they painted for movie posters or for other purposes, their faith related to Minnanese religion, such as pictures about Daoism or Buddhism. As their students, our works had to meet a certain standard, that is, they had to show “the aesthetics of crafting.”
There’s an important issue when we talk about colonization. Our blood is mixture. I’m Pingpu, but the culture we immerse in is Hakka, Minnan and mainland Chinese. We had been through a dramatic change when the Nationalist Government and many mainlanders came to Taiwan in the 1940s.
When it comes to culture, we shouldn’t focus on the visual aspect only. For me, the relationship between faith and creation is not about the gods you worship. I like to mix different things. I used to paint and copy everything, a copycat, meaning when I was given a Michelangelo piece, I copied it decently so it could be placed at a department store as decoration. Or when our teacher told us about how to do photography, we just followed suit. People copy in language learning, and it is also applied to painting learning. That’s why we imitate the writing on ancient monuments when we learn calligraphy and inscription. As for the drafts of temple painting, they are the so called “legendary bibles.”
It’s more interesting when we used to paint for movie posters which involved color configuration. For example, Eastman Color is the revolution of film format, and it also influences on the different systems of poster painting, such as the southern system and the northern system. I was lucky enough to learn poster painting in Taichung. Our company then had five teachers including my fourth uncle and his two best friends. My brother and I learned it together and ours was a distinct system. Movie posters were brought by the Japanese, so my teachers’ teachers were all Japanese. At that time, there was a weird person called Zi-fu Chen whose works are often on exhibition at the Taiwan Film Institute. He had inherited the unrestrained style of ink wash painting and then influenced Wen Cheng.
If you know the different styles, you will figure out the context of the work and its legacy. It’s like when you appreciate a calligraphy piece, you are able to tell the techniques the person uses, such as Xun Ou-Yang’s style with Zhen-qing Yan’s framework, something like that. The technique I used in temple painting belongs to the Loudong sect. I started my traditional puppets making by referring to those made in Quanzhou. I hosted a puppet exhibition in 1998 and the stories involved were all from Taiwanese folklore. The reason I chose the stories is because traditional puppet shows at that time were all about Chinese history, such as Tree Kingdoms and The Investiture of the Gods. The so called “golden light puppetry” (the ones with special visual and sound effects) did not have any, either. One thing interesting is that my puppets never make appearance on stage because none of the troupes have scripts for them.

Defying Existing Systems for Absolute Freedom

Painting for movie posters and temples had a huge influence on me. I’m very curious about painting and vision. Why I did not open a signage store but create? Because I’m the kind of person who always wants to explore something new and different. Movie poster painting was not my cup of tea and it became my brother’s profession later.
When I first arrived at Art Stock 20 for residence, I decided that I was going to focus on Miao (temple). But I changed the exhibition’s name from Rainbow, Souls into Rainbow Enchanted Wonder (Miao also means “wonder” in spoken mandarin but the two Miaos are different in writing). My signature afterwards is Miao Kong (妙公 which means “temple administrator” or “the person of wonder”). When it refers to wonder, it is exactly the same concept mentioned in Laozi’s “The gate of all subtlety.” I tried to discover the possibility of creation from Taiwanese folk culture, so I worked with the Golden Bough Theatre to reconstruct language system as one of the attempts, for instance.
Everybody thinks that I’m the man who makes puppets for traditional puppetry, but I don’t want to be a folk craftsman. I wanted to create with absolute freedom and then hippie concepts were incorporated into my creation. But it is all about fighting against existing systems.
Recently, I’ve been thinking: why modern art has to be repeating and quantifying? Is there any other possibility? Like in folk crafting, people may see it from the aspect of preserving folk culture. For example, a Chinese or Taiwanese opera performer memorizes his scripts and passes down to others, but he can’t create. Even if a slight of creation is allowed, he has to keep the main structure. Craftsmen are a group of people without individuality, they can be regarded as one as we can see the similarities in college members. That is why I do not join painting groups or groups of other kind to keep myself free.
I chose several topics to talk about folk culture and one of them is “the spirit.” Take running for example, when you run, your mind flies away or just goes blank then it is filled with ideas again. It is similar to the condition in creation as I find there are different senses of time and space involved in the process. When I’m alone, I tend to focus only on my mind which is for knowing my own condition more. Why do I go to the spirit issue so suddenly? Because I know horoscope, I ponder over the trinity of material, spirit, and soul. Whether it is the creation of traditional or modern art, it goes back to the artists themselves. We have to take industrialization out and then talk about something personal. That’s why I want to know what your expectation of this exhibition is. It’s a question about personal faith not about the team. For that, popular aesthetics and art have a definite difference. That is, it’s ok if my painting does not make sense, people either like it or hate it. I don’t care, because it is what art is all about.
Why did I do Rainbow Enchanted Wonder? My early creations were related to my life experiences and they were the reflection of my condition at that particular time. It’s not about capability. For example, I might be painting for a cute cafe whose owner preferred countryside style at day, but after I gave the NTD 5,000 pay to my wife that night, I painted a horrible penis. This kind of personality was in me for a very long time. I was poor back then and scavenged every day, so I felt true to myself when I painted nasty stuff. It reflected my difficult life condition. I had another personality when I got paid from customers’ cases. I used their energy to realize whatever they wanted.
Go back to religious experiences. I met an indigenous pastor one time when I went to Laeno tribe. He told me that they had one dance piece for tourists and one for male elders only, even local indigenous females were not allowed to attend the latter. This is very interesting, because you have to take the majority’s opinions into consideration. For example, the ceremony of welcoming Matsu at Tachia has certain tourist value. If you don’t have this activity, commodities won’t sell. It creates business opportunity so tempting that both politics and religion come to serve this commercial purpose in every city. We can’t reject such things, but we can talk about something different. We can prove that there is an alternative experience when people attend the ceremony, and it can only be proven in each individual’s life style.

A Sense of Time in Being and A Layman’s Instinct

The thing that I care the most is time, and it means the universe to me. I used to work for others; I spent too much time painting movie posters when I was young. I realized this before painting for Phû-lōng-kòng Kai Hua But in 2003, Troy, Troy… Taiwan was the last time I painted for the Golden Bough Theatre. After that, I stopped working for other people. Though I did go back to play a role in their performance, but it was just for fun. I prefer to be alone now so that I can have my time fully.
From my 1st personal exhibition Dead Plot and New Life’s Coming in 1995, Flowers are all out, to the Rainbow, Souls in 1997 which is also the year I got divorced, that period of time was when I had just completed my military service and I had so many to try in creation and art. I asked myself whether I still wanted to create in the old way after my wife and kid left me, so that’s why I created Rainbow, Souls. For that, I drove around from streets to streets, and lived like a hippie. I hanged around with many hippies and got highs. I don’t mind to say it out. For several years, I fooled around, going to parties, concerts and got high with foreigners. Later, I gradually became a hippie. I didn’t engage in creation for one or two years. It was until I stayed at the Art Stock 20 that I pulled myself together.
When the creation process was too long, I tended to hit the bottleneck and couldn’t finish the works. I wonder if other creators have this similar experience. But it was in the past, now I don’t have this problem anymore. It seems impossible for me to think about creation all the time, you need a break to continue. That is why I rode a pedicab to take A-tsai (Ming-tsai Chen) to his wedding ceremony. But I was also the witness of his divorce. At that time, I played a betel nut lady and needed a divorce exhibition for the show, so we actually went to the Household Registration Office. Many people thought we were very weird. Yi Hung designed a “Golden Church Pub” in 1999 for body painting. Wow, hot girls for three continuous months.
A-tsai just left Taipei. He said, “I’m going to paint.” He came to Yi Hung who took him to my place and told him, “This one here also paints.” He liked me, because I could make puppets and paint at will. He felt that we were very much alike and we existed robustly in the peripheral. For example, I’m good at painting posters and making puppets that I can easily fit into the mainstream, but I don’t want to. He was the same. He just finished his direction of Sheng-chuan Lai’s play A Post Martial-Law Couple. He could be big but he started directing The Colorful Streams Landing Sweep, and then got married and divorced. We were very sensitive to the environment, so we knew what we could do and what we could not. We stubbornly trust our instincts, so he found his actors from streets and they played the roles by instinct. I like to involve in areas that I am not familiar with, not that I want to fight for and prove some points, but because I can be a total novice in that area. I like it.
After my stay at Art Stock 20, I had Come Out From A Helpless Impasse: The Black Sacrifice in 2000. This was the start of my ritual-and-performance-oriented creation. I believe that if you stick to something, let’s say creation, it would grow from a static being to an active one. That’s why artists exhibit what they create. You might as well stop when the painting is done, you don’t need exhibitions if you just like painting. Just like you don’t need to be a curator if you simply enjoy the artwork. It’s all about showing, but we can discuss whether it is for the purpose of education or to accommodate the person’s anxiety of existence.
In 2005, I started to do seal carving and restarted calligraphy, it was like going back to the old days when I painted for posters and temples, and practiced calligraphy by imitating the styles in Shi Men Song, Lanting Xu and Red Cliff (Chi Bi) by Tungpo Su. These are the ones that everybody gives credit for. It is not mainly about enhancing my techniques, it’s more about being imperturbable. This shows that people trained in crafting are definitely more imperturbable than we hippies are.
All my changes can be seen in my 2011 exhibition Fairest Fairies Fair, Phû-lōng-kòng Blossom at Ciaotou Baiwu. The exhibition showed numerous small objects which nobody cared to exhibit previously, but they have been my creations piled up for a long time. I still make them nowadays. When I painted for movie posters, I sketched and drafted in lots of notebooks. My work Wonder presented at the 2014 Cloud of Unknowing exhibition at Taipei Fine Arts Museum consisted of many sketches. I think of those sketches as the lots and pictures in temples. Since this exhibition, I have been using my sketches and notebooks to decorate my ritual space.
Looking back now, I realize that my whole life has been about fighting against existing systems and avoiding being defined and tamed by them. Just like the Chin Shang art variety store.

Techniques Make the Form, Personality and
Attitude Make the Style

As for the history of posters that I have gone through, it is a magic process that starts from prints to photos to color separation systems, and then to hire of artists to paint. The works of the master, Zi-fu Chen, I mentioned earlier were the models of all poster painters in Taiwan at that time. The format of posters now are decided by movie companies and then after design they are directly sent for printing.
The way of painting the movie posters in middle Taiwan is more classic, like in Taichung, the colors of the poster are not as bright as other areas. Why? You can find the answer in the posters of movies Two Painters and Hsiao-hsien Hou’s Dust In The Wind. When a poster hangs high up to four or five floor, it creates an aesthetic distance, so the way of painting the poster is for people to enjoy it from a distance. The figures’ eyes are painted into octagon or hexagon. If you paint the eyes round, you will find them lifeless. Therefore, you should take the angles into consideration and viewers should find a poster natural when they look at it from a distance. If you want to look at the poster from a closer place, you have to show your delicacy, like how you treat a classical oil painting, because you want to look at it from a close distance. Here is the thing: what’s a large-scale painting? Do you see it as the collection of various small paintings or you start with the techniques used specifically for paintings in a large size?
There’s a person who is great at large-scale paintings, that is Chin-Ho Huang. Chun-rong Yen has the biggest paint of Jin-ho Huang whose style is a little bit like that of the German artist Jörg Immendorff, more of the school of the lower class. He put loads of paints on his canvas. His works can be as large as in size nine hundred, and when you examine his works closely, all you can see is loads of paints and a mess. But once you look at them from a distance, you then figure out the painter’s logic from the mess. That is what I mean large-scale paintings which differentiates itself from temple paintings. Temple paintings have to reveal the details whereas a movie or an ad poster needs to be viewed from a distance. It is in my learning system, so I know it clearly. For example, the lines in temple paintings tend to be very smooth like thoses in Thangka, except for the time when ink and wash painting techniques are applied, so you seldom see a falling stroke touch in a temple painting.
Techniques can sometimes be nothing but a form. If Jun-xiong Huang wants to play different roles, he has to use different accents for different characters, so he must tell those accents apart. The final and chaotic presentation of Rainbow Enchanted Wonder is the choice after realizing that I could never focus on one single subject. People think that my style is similar to Tong Hung’s when they saw Rainbow, Souls, but I don’t agree. If I want to, my works can easily meet academic standards. I can also paint classic oil painting brilliantly, but the problem is not my techniques but my personality.
I choose to give in to life and let it be my lead. That’s why I feel like a Phû-lōng-kòng(idler), certainly the galleries do not want to hold on to me, because I won’t bring them any profit! They just want you to paint and don’t want you to change your style, so they can have better marketing. Some say I am living in my own world, perhaps that’s what I want, because I can get different kinds of information from it. The trade off is that I may lose many chances. The people I hang out with may not be the same, but that’s fine, because I don’t enjoy being bothered by people in suits and ties, the friends who come to me are those who enjoy talking about lives and arts.
Because we’ve been trained, we know even the dumb can learn something in three years and gain good profits out of it. That’s why you need to follow your teacher for three and a half years. One should keep learning a variety of things in his lifetime, and he would ultimately mix whatever he’s learned. The most important thing is you have to feel the excitement when you are a total rookie. That is why people in the Ming Dynasty and the Qing Dynasty, let’s say E Liu for example, liked to imitate the calligraphic styles of ancient monuments. They were touched when they were reproducing it. Since those styles were different, they studied them just to feel the differences. If they wanted to be focused, they might just practice on one single style, why bother? But, of course, when you finish imitation, you have to create something that is yours. If you know what you are searching for by following your energy and self-awareness, it will become clearer during the practice process. So we can say the logic in calligraphy reproduction in the east is totally different from that in life subconsciousness in the west.
In the west, the baroque period was the only time when people value the techniques used to reproduce and copy. It was a time featuring apprenticeship and everyone was engaged in copying. The only difference was the master they chose to copy, that could be Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci. But at last, it still goes back to the attitude of the person. It is often misunderstood that faith is all about worship and loss of freedom. But I think there is much freedom in it, you are free to talk about belief and loyalty in life as long as you do not lie.
Copying is part of the learning, but it doesn’t mean the transformation that one has experienced in that practice is not real, so what’s wrong with reproduction? What matters is the attitude. You may come across a piece of creation that seems simple but bears deeper connotations; or on the other hand, you see a fantastic piece by someone who doesn’t even have any faith. That is, the artist just copies the techniques that brings him success and faith has nothing to do with it.

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