我們首先在3月21日與28日在水交社聆聽了油畫與彩繪修復師蔡舜任的演講。這位蔣勳的學生，曾進入義大利烏菲茲美術館（Galleria degli Uffizi），穿越時空，修復過喬托（Giotto di Bondone）畫作的修復師。回臺後他參與過北港朝天宮、彰化老畫師柯煥彰門神彩繪、臺南佳里黃氏崇榮堂的陳玉峰濕壁畫的修復工作。4月1日我們的訪問團隊進入到他的工作室，工作室裡正進行著潘麗水門神彩繪修復。然後，他又領著我們到八吉境關帝廳修復計畫的工作現場，在燠熱的廟宇主樑頂部，示範說明各種清洗溶劑與建築樑柱彩繪修復的過程。
A Meeting with Li-shui Pan in Shatao Temple
─── Arts Commons Tainan
─── Jow-jiun Gong Translated by Hui-jun Huang
rom late March to early April in 2015, the work team of Arts Commons Tainan had a wonderful encounter with Li-shui Pan, a legendary artist of Tainan.
First, we had attended Shun-jen Tsai’s lectures on oil painting and art restoration in Shuijiaoshe on March 21 and 28. Tsai, a student of Xun Jiang, was the Taiwanese art restorer that had worked in Galleria degil Uffizi in Italy for Giotto di Bondone’s works. After returning to Taiwan, Tsai had also participated in various restoration projects, including Chao-Tian Temple of Beigang, Huan-zhang Ke’s door god paintings in Changhua, and Yu-feng Chen’s frescoes at the Huang Family Ancestral Shrine in Jiali, Tainan. On April 1, we visited his studio where he was working on restoration of Li-shui Pan’s door god paintings. He led us to Guan Di Temple in Bajijing, his another restoration project, and explained about various cleaning solvents and processes of restoring paintings on pillars to us on the main beam, where surely was sultry.
Yet, what impressed me the most was still those Pan’s door god paintings, which was made more than forty years ago. Tsai treated those paintings as artworks in the restoration. He used scientific methods to identify Pan’s original designs, while removing inappropriate protection of gum and later added drawing parts. When cleaning, he found that Li-shui Pan, who was elected to exhibit his works in Taiwan Art Exhibition by the Japanese government and later was forced to paint movie billboards to earn a living due to the government’s anti-Buddhism and temple policies in the end of Japanese period, really had excellent skills in Western drawing. With the restoration, Pan’s techniques and skills in his works, such as shadows cast in lines and folds, beautifully crossed colors, gold leaves and hair, vigorous eyes, and vivid holding hands, were being revived via the restorer’s efforts.
It was the afternoon of April 2, the day before we interviewed with Professor Chong-ray Hsiao, who was an expert on history of Tainan paintings. I was threading the way to Absolute Space for the Arts, but went to a wrong direction. I was just like going through a time travel and accidentally arrived at a restoration work site at Shatao Temple. Mr. Chuang, the main organizer of the restoration project, was very friendly and kind to tell me the history of the temple. Suddenly, I noticed that on walls of the site were many pieces of carved black granite. I checked Richness, Paintings, Li-shui Pan by Professor Hsiao I brought with me, and surprisingly found at page 152 that one of those carving pieces of Saint Liu was designed by Li-shui Pan in 1978 for Shatao Temple’s renewal. The piece was also what worried Mr. Chuang much because he could not find a way to restore it. Therefore, he asked me to join him in figuring out how to well preserve these art pieces on the walls.
When we had an interview with Chong-ray Hsiao in the afternoon of April 2, he generously gave us Dan Qing Miao Bi: Works of Li-shui Pan, A Traditional Artist of Tainan, which was published in 1996. In this collection of Li-shui Pan’s works, I found the carving pieces in Shatao Temple at page 45, and the book indicated that forty-nine pieces by Pan were in the temple. Although, “these pieces were made by other stone carvers with Pan’s existing drawings,” Shatao Temple was still possible to have the greatest amount of Pan’s stone carving works in Tainan. After the interview, we had a discussion with members of Arts Commons Tainan, and decided to restore the carvings first by rubbing before finding a way to correctly cut it down completely in the future.
According to Yun Shan Li Shui: A Research on Works of Li-shui Pan, A Traditional Artist of Tainan, Shatao Temple had the most stone carving works in Tainan City. We actually counted on the wall at both sides of the temple, and found in total there were sixty carving pieces, including Pan’s designs and other ones’ works. They were estimated to be made in 1978 when the temple was renewed.
In these thirty-seven years, the temple had often encountered flood issues because it was in the lowland and decided to raise the foundation. The rework was organized by Mr. Chuang, whom I met because I mistaken the path. With information of books I brought with me, I discussed with Chuang and he pointed me those elegant lines on stone carvings on the wall. Pieces of “Four Saints” were the most impressive. According to the poems of thirty-six gods of Taiwanese temples, “With dragons, saints and gods, the four directions are guarded by Chang, Hsiao, Liu and Lian. The prince god Nezha leads celestial warriors to show his almighty.” It pointed out the guarding duty of the four saints of Chang, Hsiao, Liu and Lian, and Nezha was the leader of celestial warriors. In those poems, it also described Saint Chang as “A walker with bare foots and righteous behaviors wears a snake to show his power.” On the wall, Saint Chang was also portrayed as a god with bare foots and a snake; other three saints were also drawn as dynamic warriors with bare foots, snakes and their weapons to smite devils. From those graceful outlines with their long tongues out, one could see that those snakes were reflecting girdles on other paintings of door gods by Li-shui Pan with a stronger touch. It greatly showed dynamic traits of Baroque ornamental edging. Compared with drawn or wooden four saint works in other temples, Pan’s pieces had lively lines spread out to make those flying saints look vivid and energetic. Such excellent artworks were impossible to be overlooked in those sixty carving pieces.
Under the sun in April, members of Arts Commons Tainan and about fifteen volunteer workers gathered at the entrance of Shatao temple. At about six in the morning, we had nice peanut rice dumplings and soup first in a nearby famous rice dumpling stand, then started our rubbing works until ten in the morning with the sun being blazing. At first, we tried to use ink, but later changed to charcoal pencils due to many issues we had encountered. It had taken us about four days, until the end of the month, to copy those sixty carvings on cotton paper by using the rubbing method. Via this way, we wanted to well preserve drawings of Li-shui Pan and other calligraphy, mural, stone carving works on the wall and pillars. Maybe we were sincere enough to be directed by Nezha himself to have this surprising and wonderful experience to meet our own history. We also had an opportunity to store some stone carvings on behalf of the temple with us. Yet, going through all of this, the holy and vigorous images of four saints seemed to deep root in this memory of making rubbing works in Shatao Temple. It was indeed a great power that could hardly be subdued by other things.