Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Spirit of One-legged Deva In Memory of Lee Kuen-Lin


part 1



part 2



part 3



part 4



part 5



part 6



                                                                              part 7


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Love Mountains 。 Lee Kuen-Lin



Love 
Mountains



He loved mountains, painted mountains, and rested in the mountains.
Text by Hsiao Rei Qiung
Translated by Wesley Shih Yu Kaelan Shih Yu

I was going to write a commentary for artist Lee Kun-Lin for his upcoming exhibition. However, an unexpected event came up and caused a slight delay. By the time I was ready to pick up the pen, Lee Kun-Lin's spirit had already dissolved and settled into the mountains.

Lee Kun-Lin started to earn prestige from the art world by forming an artists' group called the "Border Culture" in 1992 at the Tainan Municipal Cultural Center, which would soon demonstrate an introductory exhibition. At this point he had just graduated from the Chinese Culture University, specifically, the Department of Fine Arts. After joining and leaving the army, he officially began his creative career. It was the beginning of a competitive age, and the formation of "Border Culture" was intended to contradict the Cultural Center next door. The core concept of the "Border" was "flexible and informal" thinking compared to the "central and traditional" concepts of the Culture Center's art forms in society. This concept of the Border Culture represented the challenge this group faced both to society and to their own artistic self expectations.

Lee Kun-Lin's creativity began with his unique surrealistic style of blending images into symbols.
Lee Kun-Lin's style differed from his college peers in that his art reflected the inner strength and self-identity imprints of life, while classical artists concentrated on painting still lifes and the classic cattle bone/plaster sets.


His various arts, including: The Scourge of Angels (1989), Trap  (1991), Nightmare (1991), Slaughterhouse  (1992), Depression Landscape  (1992), Show Business! Events? (1992), Lust and Hell (1992), Marriage in The Graveyard (1992),  and One Shop Garden (Eden) (1992), all demonstrated the frank and sincere views he had towards the social phenomenas and infinite mysteries of nature. One can easily sense a trace of his childish qualities and lust for sex in his cold brush strokes and bold colors.

During the 1993 exhibition, he developed his integration of art forms with the series called "You Wei de Feng Jing" (The Gloomy side of Life) which incorporated the traditional Chinese horizontal scroll like painting style. During this stage of his life, his work contained many micro organism like symbols. This was the beginning of the Lee-Style period. In this period, his prior emotional feelings were replaced with a new profound thinking behind the scene.

In his prelude for his exhibition, he wrote:
"No doubt it is in human nature to create beautiful and melancholic landscapes with multi-tropism involved, but to be truly creative, one must realize that there is no limit in presenting one's own candid views and thoughts in one's works. Are these landscapes, nudes, still lifes, really worth an artist's lifetime's work? Does it matter if the artist paints hundreds or thousands of these paintings? Is there a meaning  of beauty for painting these redundant forms of art, or is there really a personal reason for retaining the natural beauty in these paintings that the artist continues to paint them?"

He continued:
"All these questions cause me to ponder over my next series of works. A truly creative artist cannot paint without a conscience. Painting without a conscience leads to dull and lifeless paintings with no vitality! These perfect but repeating paintings no doubt please the majority of the world, but do we really need to please the majority? Perhaps we should, and perhaps we shouldn't. Or maybe we shouldn't answer at all. Such a delicate question requires more discussion."

In the year 1994, during the month of the Chinese New Year, Lee Kun-Lin's daughter was born, and as a father, Lee Kun-Lin was deeply touched by the mystery of life. As a result, reproduction became the main theme of his exhibition that year.

In this exhibition's prelude, he wrote:
"On the fifth day of the Chinese New Year, my daughter was born. After taking the first picture of her, I started to experience strong emotions and was inspired to create a true life's work on this form of life, who can cry, laugh, be hungry, make trouble, pee and poo, sleep, breed, and reproduce."

He added: "Human beings produce more humans, who produce art works, the same art works which inspire ideas, ideas which give spirit in life. This life then produces human beings, and the cycle is repeated. We create arts to show the spiritual sides of our lives, which can express our body's scope in a broader way, resulting in more people, life, and physical/spiritual symbols representing the eternal condition of the body...eventually solving problems even when our bodies decay and disappear."

The "Breeding" series of art follows the style of the "You Wei de Feng Jing" series, with the exception that the human element begins to replace the purely scenic landscapes, thus adding more interior and decorative appeal, and yet adding a touch of reality in the world. Thus, Birth is the most important theme to represent this period.

In 1995, the "Coffee House Meditation" series represents another turning point in Lee Kun-lin's artistic style. This new style reverted back to his original colorful image style, the symbolic shapes of which easily remind us of Miro's surrealistic world. That is, such works are highly personal and secretive. During this period, Lee Kun-lin seemed rather content to retreat to his studio, and happily created a world of his own which reflected the crazy topics in life.

Between 1996 and 1997, Lee Kun-lin attempted to work on some installation arts. This attempt was undoubtly, of great importance in Lee Kun-lin's artistic life. It seems like these installation arts helped open up a communication channel to the outside world, connecting Lee Kun-lin to artists of the same era.

However, the most important meaning of Lee Kun-lin's transition from flat paintings to installation arts lies in the establishment of clearer language and thoughts of him. Some people believe that the change in materials/media also changes the form of the art language, and therefore, the description of the content/thinking is also altered. This does not apply to Lee Kun-lin.


Lee Kun-lin's installation arts, keeping his painting's theme of sexual reproduction, continued to grow in numbers during that period. He does not present the story in a thoughtful manner, but rather in a free manner so as to bring out the desire of inner life. It seems that Lee Kun-lin continued to receive great satisfaction and achievement from this same process, as seen in his works "The Bud and the Pupae, a one way narrative" [2000] and "Metamorphosis" [2000] during this period. With his continuous involvement in installation arts, many of the previously "ambiguous" and "chaotic" elements from his flat/plane paintings became clearer, and at the same time, still retained the significant personal characteristics of his style, as seen in the 2001's "Imprinting" series. This series seemed to have added new interesting elements, such as rubber engraving works, which is actually done by cloth acryllic in the media material. These simple, yet determined brush strokes gave a rather powerful statement. Instead of showing the uncertainty of the artist's inner side, it added more hints of the real world. His work in this period included: "A Walk in the Forest which has encountered...", "Is it Male or Female", "It's a Dog", "A couple", "Fish-phase", and "A Flower Garden", all of which were from the year 2000. There were still elements of organic reproduction code, and yet, a touch of free, humourous, and sarcastic spirit was added. Lee Kun-lin was apathetic, and fully at ease.

Immediately after this series, Lee Kun-Lin started to show a seemly more relaxed art style, reflected in his “Parallel Flying Clouds” series in his “Gloomy” art period, where he entered a mind set of mid-age understanding. With a style similar to Chinese landscape painting, Lee Kun-Lin began to step out of the inner universe of individualism, and into a broader outer universe. Paintings of this period were no longer depressed and autistic. They were instead, composed of more self confidence and maturity. “Round Trip (2002)”, “A Dream of Wushan (2002)”, “The Cloud (2002)”, were all poetry based on immortal content. Other works such as “Legend by Hill (2002)”, “Wushan Clouds (2002)”, and “Encountering the Sun (2002)” clearly show the increased thickness and accumulation of a myth continued from “The Roland Documentary (2001)”, and “Eagle’s Nest (2001)”.

From 2001 to 2004, Lee Kun-Lin’s artistic life entered into his mature peak. Works in this period presented certain forms of change, and always burst with a gust of strong vitality. Although in terms of technique, there was always a glimpse into Western masters such as Picasso, however, there were also Chinese brush lines and unities of soul materials. His scenery reflected his heart, as shown in his works of 2003: “Bean and Speakers”, “Wan”, “Knights and Trojans”, “Foot Cavalry”, “Red Thread”, “Postman Handed the Ball of Wool”, and “Harmonica Playing”.
This series of works, via different line colors, repeated overlapping strokes, and presented a surreal sculptural form that skillfully combined abstract expressionism and geometric structures in one, should be considered the most important representative and masterpiece of Lee Kun-Lin’s works.

During this period, Lee Kun-Lin began to have his own gallery of works. Life began to stabilize. The amount of work he did greatly increased, and the exhibition shows ranged from initially just Taiwan, to China.

However, the development since the years 2003 and 2004, due to a mere focus on structural form, seemed to have deviated from Lee Kun-Lin’s original style, his long term concerns about life, drifting into a delinking phenomenon. In his 2007 exhibition at the newly opened Taiwan Dong Men Museum, his “The Single-footed Fairy’s Journey” series chose to refocus on the original surreal symbolic language. On the canvas, there was a single footed monster without hands, which was Lee Kun-Lin’s self reflected metaphor of “a lone fairy”, crawling among the mountains that were filled with breasts. Sometimes there rows of them crawling among the mountain ridges. To explain this event, he says “So many fairies are in fact just one.” This “Single-footed Fairy’s Journey” implied that the journey was done by a single-footed man, walking alone on his journey. Therefore, this painting is also a lone journey. Although the fairy looks funny in shape, there is in fact a deep sense of self-mockery and self-reflection of the artist.
A man used to solitude, Lee Kun-Lin said: “It’s funny that I would feel lonely when there are a lot of people running errands around me; however, when I am by myself as a free person, I don’t feel lonely at all”! The feelings of being “lonely” and “not lonely” is really a pull between physical existence and mental states; Lee Kun-lin's "Single-footed Fairy" is considered human by being tragic, and yet a tiny and lonely creature at the same time. However, as long as one has two eyes and one leg, there will be enough for unlonely action, which is not tragic at all!


The breast-shaped mountains represented human being’s passions of the earth. Mother Earth nourished humans, but in return,humans erected high-voltage towers on her surface and destroyed Mother Earth.

The "Single-footed Fairy's Journey" from 2007 is a tearful laughing black comedy; The year 2009's "Mountain Oath" is also a deep-thought tragedy. With a hint of deep blue, the occasionally appearing "single-footed fairy" is no longer a tragic hero with momentum, lingering in the darkness like a ghost. Instead, he is peeping through the depths of the mountains, observing everything that's going on in the woods bit by bit with his hollow eyes.....

Lee Kun-Lin wrote down a number of similar words and stories in the 1993 exhibition , "Human beings are extremely fragile in the entire universe. We can be destroyed at any time. So what is art worth then? I was in a modern art forum and observed a group of ants gathering together around me and wondered that perhaps they were also exploring what modern art is? Or maybe, they were discussing how to divide the big pie right at this location and at this time. If I was looking at the group of ants as I see the universe, wouldn't the group of ants, in their deliberations about how to handle food, look just like us in the forum discussing the development of modern arts? And if I unintentionally step my big foot on these ants, killing all of them without a reason, and leave the big pie on the floor waiting for another group of ants to find it, will they negotiate how to handle and share the food for eating as well?”

    “Art is just like the pie, waiting to be discovered, discussed, shared and stored by humans. Human beings are like ants, strong and fragile at the same time. Art is just like the pie, being placed in the universe. Art will exist whether human beings are present to discuss it, just as the pie will exist whether there are ants to eat it. At the same time, humans will exist whether art exists, just as ants will exist regardless of whether there is any pie to eat.


     Art exists in nature and the atmosphere of the universe. Human beings are here to discover and produce it, just as ants endlessly move the foods around. Sometimes art seems to be discussed and produced by humans daily and sometimes it would seem that art intentionally hides from humans.
How strong and eternal is art and how vulnerable and short-lived are humans! "

The lone "Single-footed Fairy" has already gone for the long journey. For a person who loved and painted mountains for life, Lee Kun-Lin finally put his life in the mountains, proving the nature of human vulnerability at the same time; however, by devoting his life, thinking and creating art, he also confirmed the eternal truths of art. "Mountain Oath" is the last and most profound oath he left for his family and friends.







山盟


山盟愛山、畫山、以身殉山的李昆霖文字蕭瓊瑞


談好為即將展覽的昆霖寫一篇畫評,沒想到因雜務纏身、稍一擔擱,提筆時,昆霖的畫魂已隱入山林,成為深谷中的山靈。
李昆霖在藝壇的受到囑目,應是始自1992年在台南市立文化中心旁和幾個朋友成立「邊陲文化」空間,並推出開幕聯展。此時他剛從文化大學美術系畢業,服完兵役,正式展開他的創作生涯。那是一個多元紛呈的時代開端,「邊陲文化」的提出,當然是衝著隔壁的「文化中心」而來。「邊陲」與「中心」的思考,也代表著這些年輕人對社會的挑戰、對既成藝術生態的質疑,也是對自我藝術生命的期許。
李昆霖的創作,一開始便走著一種結合圖像與符號的超現實風格,而他的超現實,不同於某些貧乏的學院流風,將牛骨頭和石膏像並置、虛懸、裝神弄鬼;空有舞台,推不出戲碼,徒有形式,而沒有內容。李昆霖的超現實風格,是一種生命思索的深痕印記,既有自我內心深刻的發掘,也有社會現象直截的批判;既有大自然奧秘的無限思索,也有個人生命渺小的深沈慨嘆……。這些內容都可以從他作品的標題中,明顯發現,如:〔天使的浩劫〕(1989)、〔陷阱〕(1991)、〔夢魘〕(1991)、〔屠宰場〕(1992)、〔憂鬱山水〕(1992)、〔秀場!事件?〕(1992)、〔慾與獄〕(1992)、〔墓場婚姻〕(1992)、〔壹店園〕(伊甸園)(1992)……等等;這個時期的作品,筆觸較為大膽,色彩較為強烈,有著年輕人率直、真切,又不免帶著一絲純真、幼稚的特質,和些許性的苦悶。
不過,1993年的個展,形式上就進入某種統整的階段,以「憂媺的風與景」為題的系列作品,採取橫長如國畫長卷般的形式,讓一些狀如生物、又形如風景的符號,舖陳開來……。這是李氏風格開始建立的時期,之前較為情緒性的抒發,在此也開始變得較為深沈。在展出的序言中,他寫道:
「被冠上『憂鬱』『美善』的風景環境現象,是不單純的多向性結合而導致的;人為的因素是不用說了;但,身為一位以創作自居的人,必然要意識到,而不能一昧地逃避,必須完全地呈現自己所看、所思、所想。
美麗的風景、裸女、靜物,真的值得一位創作者花一輩子的時間去畫它嗎?畫一張、一百張、一萬張...…它的意義在哪?純為一種美感?是情有獨鍾?是為留住優美的景色、裸女、靜物?所以要拼命製造、生產?
一切的問題是那樣的讓我感到納悶:可能畫一批一系列的作品更是要深思質疑。身為創作者不能沒有自覺。一昧地去做一件反覆沒有生命力可言的作品。倘若沒有自覺到,必定會導致扼殺創作的生命及可能性。
美好漂亮的景色、裸女、靜物固然讓人感到喜悅。但,需要那樣多的人製作那樣多的作品來滿足那樣多的人嗎?可能這答案是肯定的?也可能是否定的?更可能是無解的?如此的虛無狀態更是值得我們深思。」



1994年農曆元月,女兒誕生,初為人父的李昆霖,深為生命的繁殖奧秘所震懾,「繁殖」也成為他當年年中個展的標題。在當年的個展單張DM中,他如此寫道:
「繁殖」系列接續「憂媺的風與景」系列的風格,但人的成份開始取代純粹風景山水的意象,一些室內家具、擺設的出現,也增添了人世間現實的意味。〔誕生〕就是此時期最重要的代表作。
1995年,「咖啡屋裡的冥想」系列,是另一個風格的轉折。基本上回到多彩的畫面,這些色彩和具象徵性的造型,容易讓人聯想起米羅的一些超現實世界;毋寧說這樣的作品,都是極為個人且隱密的。李昆霖似乎也樂於躲在畫室中,如此這般地營構自我的世界,宣洩其生命的囈語。
1996至1997年間開始的一些裝置作品的嘗試,對李昆霖藝術生命的發展,無疑是具有重大的意義。似乎這些裝置行動的參與,豁然打開了一條他和外在環境,尤其是人,至少是其他藝術家接觸、溝通的管道。
但是從平面到裝置,對李昆霖藝術生命發展,更具重要意義的指標,是建立了他明確的語言和思維。有人以為,甚至主張:表達媒材的改變,也就改變了形式的語言,甚至是述說的內容和思維。這點,至少對李昆霖而言,並不是正確的。
李昆霖的裝置作品,維持他一貫繁殖性與生命力的有機符碼,在特定的時空中,不斷掙長、延伸。他不在述說故事,也不在演示思維,而是將內在生命的慾望,以一種極為自由的方式,任其生發、鋪衍。似乎李昆霖也在這種隨著作品空間不斷繁殖、擴展的過程中,也獲得極大的滿足與實現。〔芽與蛹的單向敘述〕(2000)、〔蛻變〕(2000),都是這個時期的代表之作。
由於裝置作品的介入與持續,許多原本在平面表現中較為曖昧、渾沌的形象,相對地開始變得比較具體而面目清晰,同時也具備了明顯的個人特色,這正是200l年「銘印」系列的主要面貌。
「今年農曆元月初五早上──我女兒從她媽媽的肚子裡跑了出來。在我拍下她出生後的首張照片時,強烈地感受到──這是件活生生的作品,最真實,會哭、會笑、會餓、會鬧、會拉、會睡、會想、會繁殖……」
他又說:
「人生產人,人生產作品;作品生產意念,意念生產精神;精神生產生命,生命生產存在……。
人創作是為了繁衍人的精神存在,讓生命擴散出去肉體的侷限範圍,產生更多的人,生命體、精神象徵、永恆存在,解決肉體腐朽敗壞後的存在問題。」



在「銘印」系列中,帶著某種類如橡膠版畫趣味的作品,其實還是以布上壓克力彩為媒材,但簡潔如刀法的筆觸,給人明朗有力的感覺,同時題材也脫離之前較為個人內心囈語的層面,有了更多人間世界的臆想,如:〔在森林裡面散步,遇到……〕、〔是男是女〕、〔是狗〕、〔是情侶〕、〔魚相〕、〔花園中的花〕(以上皆為2001)……等等,仍然是一種有機符碼的生發繁衍,但多了一份舒朗、嘲諷、無所為而為的幽默、旁觀,與自在。
緊接在這個系列之後的李昆霖,似乎有了一種海闊天空的悠然。「平行飛行的雲朵」系列,顯示這位告別憂媺時光的藝術家,正步入中年心境的了然。一種類如中國山水畫的高遠、迴盪,李昆霖走出了個人內在的宇宙,進入一個時空更大的外在宇宙。繪畫對這個時期的李昆霖而言,不再是苦悶、自閉、封塞的代名詞,他有著一種揮灑自若的自信與成熟。〔圓行〕(2002)、〔巫山風行〕(2002)、〔雲上〕(2002)都帶著一種「遊仙詩」般的瀟灑與自得;〔借山傳說〕(2002)、〔巫山雲朵〕(2002)、〔遇日〕(2002),則延續著之前〔羅蘭紀事〕(2001)、〔尖山紀實〕(2001)的脈絡,多了一份神話的厚度與積澱。
2001年迄2004年的李昆霖,是他藝術生命進入成熟的高峰期。作品在某些形式的變化中,始終迸發著一股強勁的生命力。儘管在某些技法上,還可以窺見如畢卡索等西方大師的影子,但他所呈現的內涵,已然是一個完全屬於李昆霖特有的自足世界。其中還有對中國毛筆線條的借用與發揮,以及心景合一、物景自成的魅力。〔晚豆與喇叭〕(2003)、〔騎士與木馬〕(2003)、〔步行的騎兵〕(2003)、〔紅色線索〕(2003)、〔遞給郵差的毛線球〕(2003)、〔口琴吹奏〕(2003)這一系列作品,藉著不同色彩的線條,反覆迴旋、重疊,結構出仍具有超現實特色的作品,巧妙地結合了抽象表現與幾何結構的手法於一爐,應為是李昆霖重要且極具發展性的代表力作。
這個時期的李昆霖,也開始擁有專屬的畫廊經營,生活上獲得一定的安定。創作的量大為增加,展覽的層面也逐漸擴展,由南而北、由台灣而中國大陸。
不過2003、04年以來發展的路向,帶著一種純粹形式組構的風格路向,似乎和李昆霖長期關注、思維的生命議題,隱隱有著脫勾的現象。2007年在新開幕的台南東門美術館的個展:「獨角仙行旅圖」,李昆霖選擇回到原本超現實的符號語言。畫面中有一隻沒有手的單腳怪獸,也就是畫家自我隱喻的「獨腳仙」,在充滿乳房的群山丘壑中喁喁爬行,有時畫面山稜線上,畫滿了成排的「獨腳仙」,但正如畫家的自述:「畫再多隻,其實都是一隻。」
「獨腳仙」,不止「獨腳」,也是「獨行」;「獨腳仙」的行旅,也是孤獨的行旅。表面上看來有些搞笑的造型,其實是一種深深的自嘲與自省。習於獨處的李昆霖曾說:「一堆人時,蹤來蹤去,會感受孤獨;一個人時,卻可以做自己喜歡的事,反而不孤獨。」
「孤獨」與「不孤獨」之間,是一種存有與精神間的拉距;李昆霖的「觸腳仙」,既視人之存有是一種極其渺小、極為孤獨的悲劇;但只要有兩隻眼睛、一隻腳,其實就足以行動,又是何其悲壯!



群山狀若乳房,是肉身即大地的情慾世界,人類依靠大地滋養,卻在大地之上架設高壓電塔,用破壞來回饋大地。
2007年的「獨腳仙行旅圖」是一齣含淚帶笑的黑色喜劇;2009年的「山盟」,則是一曲捨身還諸大地的深刻悲劇。帶著幽深藍色,偶爾出現的「獨腳仙」,已無之前的悲壯氣勢,幽冥如徘徊的幽靈;在山林深處不斷出現一雙巨大卻空洞的眼神,窺視著山中發生的點點滴滴……。
李昆霖曾在1993年的個展中,寫下這樣的一些話語和故事:
孤獨的「獨腳仙」已然遠行。一生愛山、畫山的李昆霖,最後以身殉山,驗證了人類脆弱的本質;但他一生思索、建構的作品,也印證了藝術永恆的真理。「山盟」是他留給親人朋友們最後、最深刻的誓言。
「人類是無比的脆弱,在整個大宇宙下,它是隨時可被毀滅的。藝術又算什麼? 我在一個探討所謂的現代藝術的座談會上,看到我身邊有一群螞蟻也聚集在一起,
可能牠們也在探討現代藝術是什麼?或者正在商議如何來分工搬運『現在這個時間這個地點的這個大餅』。
假若『我』是『大宇宙』這角色來看這群螞蟻;而『這群螞蟻』在商議食物如何搬運,就像座談會上的『這群人』在商討藝術的發展。
又假若我的大腳有心無意地去踩踏這群螞蟻,這群螞蟻就莫明其妙的死去散了,大餅或完好或粉碎的留在原地;等著另外一群螞蟻來發現來商議來搬運來儲存來分食....

『藝術』又何嘗不是被人類發現搬運儲存分食?就像『食物』被螞蟻發現,人類就像螞蟻一樣又堅強又脆弱,藝術就像食物放置在大宇宙裡,無論有人(螞蟻)或無人(螞蟻)來製作(搬運)藝術品(大餅)或討論藝術(食物),藝術(食物)絕不會因為人(螞蟻)討論製作(搬運)而存在;也不會因為無人(螞蟻)討論製作(搬運)而不存在。
藝術就在大自然、大宇宙的氣息裡,人類在這裡去感應發現,就如螞蟻搬食地沒完沒了。藝術好像每天被人類玩在手裡掛在嘴上,又好像一溜煙又不見影地跟人類在玩『捉迷藏』。
「藝術是何等地永恆堅強,人類又是何等地短暫脆弱。」



Young Art Taipei - Lee Kuen - Lin

                                        
                           There had a gap cos someone bought it. 






I also taped The video about Young Art Taipei - Lee Kuen - Lin




  
                The series of pictures is called "Seed people".