Wang Yabin: Reflections in Time

…The art of the Han Dynasty produced sculptures and objects that were employed predominately as burial artifacts and placed within tombs. Representations of the human figure and animal depictions were carved on tombstones, whilst paintings were mostly for ornamental purposes. It was at the beginning of the Tang Dynasty that multi-ethnic influences, from the ever growing influx of foreigners travelling The Silk Route, permeated Chinese society. These influences established important new art forms such as Buddhist sculpture and the ink renditions of landscapes. The Five Dynasties period to the Northern Song is today heralded as ‘The Great Age of Chinese Landscape’ from which a truly distinctive style emerged. Scholars mastered the technique of creating three dimensional space between the foreground and background of the picture plane, creating a sensuous distance between the two sections, and leading to the famous and beloved images of mountain peaks rising out of misty clouds.

Today, Wang Yabin’s sensitive handling of the medium has furnished him with the skills to accomplish the same reverence to that which is represented in these historical ink wash paintings and Han sculpture. In the same fashion that the traditional Chinese palette employed colours such as moon white to mimic natural phenomena, Wang’s subtle monochromatic shades recall the aged patina of ancient pottery, emoting a sense of nostalgia and melancholy. His paintings suggest ‘Memento Mori’, and reinforce a deep and spiritual connection to the long and complex cultural ancestry of the land.


今天,王亞彬對油畫媒介敏感而細膩的掌控,讓他有能力賦予風景同樣的尊嚴,就像古典水墨和漢代雕塑所做的那樣。傳統的中國色彩體系更加接近自然,這從“秋香”等色彩名稱上就能窺見一二。王亞彬用同樣的精神建立起自己的色彩體系。他為單一色彩注入豐富的層次,讓人想起古代陶器那種具有時間感的色澤,喚起懷舊和憂郁的情感。他的作品讓人想起一句拉丁箴言:“人皆為將死(Memento mori)”;同時,又與屬於他的土地的、輾轉流長的文化建立起深刻的精神聯繫。


‘All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players…
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts…’


--‘As You Like It’ William Shakespeare, English poet and playwright (1564-1616)
《皆大歡喜(As You Like It)》,威廉·莎士比亞(William Shakespeare),英國詩人和劇作家(1564-1616)


Shakespeare’s widely known and recited words, point to the ‘seven ages’ that man transitions in life, from his birth to his death. Although Wang’s immortal protagonists escape such a fate, they still play their different parts amidst the scenic backdrops of stars, pine trees and mountain peaks. Surrounding his cast of players, the artist draws straight lines that trace a loose rectangular shape, suggesting a proscenium view of the world, and the staging begins to reveal itself. Gaston Bachelard’s concept of topoanalysis – the theory that the house serves as the backdrop to the conscious being, and that memories become part of the present existence – could be said of Wang’s surreal arrangements; ‘…in the theatre of the past that is constituted by memory, the stage setting maintains the characters in their dominant roles. At times we think we know ourselves in time, when all we know is a sequence of fixations in the spaces of the being’s stability…that is what space is for’. Wang’s paintings are scenes from a hypnagogic storyboard, playing to a narrative that is populated by elements that are familiar to all.

莎士比亞這段廣為流傳的文字,指向人的生命從出生到死亡的“七個階段”。雖然王亞彬畫中那些永生的主角逃離了這一命運,卻仍然在星空、松樹、山峰組成的布景前扮演著不同的角色。他常常用直線畫出一個矩形,包圍著自己的演員,暗示這世界就是一個舞臺,並讓布景逐一顯現。在加斯頓·巴赫拉(Gaston Bachelard)的認識論裡,閉合的空間是背景,包容一切有意識的存在;而記憶則是當下的一部分。這正好可以形容王亞彬的超現實布景。“……在記憶形成的、過去的舞臺上,布景會保持角色最重要的特質。有時候,我們會認為,自己是通過時間來了解自己的,但實際上,我們想了解自己,需要’存在’的各種穩定狀態都固定在空間中,串聯起來,並成為我們所知的全部……這就是空間的意義。”[註7]王亞彬畫中的場景類似催眠所使用的故事模版,它們是由人們都很熟悉的元素所構成的。

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