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In and Out of Tradition

With passion that shines through the glow of the evening sky — Abstract Landscape Paintings by Paul Ka Yin Kwok 
絢爛雲天總繫情:郭家賢抽象山水畫展

靳杰强

 

卓越的畫家對自己生活的環境必然是一個敏銳而深入的觀察者。這方面的皎皎者,有北宋的名家范寬。他長期隱居終南山和太華山,深得關中山岳渾厚雄强之勢,創造了威儀萬丈,扣人心弦的山水。又有元代的倪瓚,他生活在江南無錫一帶,深受太湖平澹的景色影響,他的畫便多平遠淡泊,太湖的水面佔了畫面一大片空間,在老遠的地才畫上對岸的山巒。他表現了空靈閑逸的境界。這些因環境而造就的畫家不可勝數,郭家賢也在這行列之中。郭氏居明尼蘇達州四十餘年,朝夕與當地的山陵和湖泊相對,寫出彩色繽紛的雲彩和水天交融的抽象山水。

 

據他說,他最喜愛明州日出和日落的景色。他常静觀天空雲彩的變化,欣賞晚霞的餘輝,從金黃變得通紅,再轉向深暗的紫藍。湖水的反映更豐富了色彩。這些景色都走進了他的畫作,而他用抽象的手法,無拘無束地運用浪漫的色調,將北國一塵不染的境界刻畫出來。他又說,明州有法例不淮房屋超過樹木的高度。這種維護自然環境的做法,深得畫家的讚賞,所以他這些畫又是他的環保宣言,更用畫來傾訴他對大自然的愛。

 

今次郭氏在美京藝廊展出的描象山水大都以大筆橫掃,色彩渾融,不拘小節。以抽象山水之十五為例,畫面由一組稍作傾斜的橫向彩筆構成,雖是抽象,但也可想見天空、陸地和湖泊的構圖。這樣,上半的天空寫出金黃、紅色和紫色的雲彩,其中斑駁的筆觸,有效地描寫出雲的形態,輕盈自在。中段的墨色橫帶令人想像到長著密林的陸地,而墨在宣紙上淹出的外形,又好比高低參差的樹木,疏密有致。天腳底的深紅霞彩表現太陽正處於地平線之下,陸地正是背著太陽的剪影,用墨色寫來便最貼切不過了。下面淡黃一片,或帶淺紅,或參以草綠,寫出平静如鏡的湖水,其中一絲紫藍色的長筆,橫伸在黃白的湖面,驚破了以橙黃為主的基調,提升了整幅畫的趣味。這是抽象的自由,更是善用抽象的成果。

 

郭氏畫中的抽象成份或多或少,色彩或濃或淡,因畫而異。例如另一幅抽象山水之七,或許給人更加覺得抽象,用色也較濃重。雖然如此,它中段右邊那半透明的白色渲染也使人想到白雲出岫,在山坡間自由舒捲的景致。無論如何,郭氏的抽象山水成功地寫出北國寧静無塵的境界。其實我們應該說,他將自己超然脫俗的人生觀注入了他的畫裡。看著他的畫,我們也像沐浴在清風之中。下面一首七絕是筆者看了他的畫之後有感而作:

 

北國河山格外清,

松杉萬頃更榮明;

君毫塑出千湖韻,

絢爛雲天總繫情。

By KAN KIT-KEUNG

(Chinese to English translation by Paul Kwok)

An outstanding painter is always a sensitive and in-depth observer of life and the environment in which he lives. The leading example is the great painter, Fan Kuan 范寬 of the Northern Song Dynasty. He lived a reclusive life in the mountains of Zhongnan 終南山 and Taihoa 太華山 and absorbed the spirits of those great mountains of Central China 關中, creating tremendously impressive landscape paintings with concealing depth. Another example is Ni Zan 倪瓚 of the Yang Dynasty. He lived in the open plain of Wuxi 無錫 in southern China and was deeply affected by the still and calm environment of the Great Lakes 太湖 region. He let his paintings extend far into vastness by depicting a large area of the lake and putting riverbanks and rolling hills in the distance. He created paintings with innate intelligence and are spiritually pertaining. There are many artists who are nourished by the environment they live in. Ka Yin Kwok can be listed as one among them. Living in Minnesota state for over forty years, from morning to sundown, he gets to know the rolling lands and shimmering lakes well, so well that he manages to create abstract landscape paintings patched with colorful clouds, well intermingling with lands and waters. 

 

Kwok says what impresses him most is the scenery of sunrises and sunsets. He will quietly observe the changing patterns and colors of clouds, before and after sundown — colors changing from gold to bright red and sinking into deep blues and purples. The reflections of the lakes cohesively and comprehensively enrich such glowing looks, which Kwok is able to enhance with his abstract artistry. The executions in these abstract forms allow him to use more romantic color combinations and the liberty of portraying this northern land in pure and unadulterated forms. Kwok also mentioned that because of certain building restrictions, houses are built below the tree lines. This approach to maintaining the natural environment has won the appreciation of the painter, so these paintings are Kwok’s declaration of environmental protection and his expression of love for nature. 

 

Kwok’s paintings currently exhibited at the CCACC Art Gallery are mostly executed with bold and extensive brushwork, interacting and mixing with rich and reciprocal colors. In Abstract Landscape No. 15, the painting is composed of arrayed colorful brushwork, moving slightly up and away from the center, and in simple and abstract forms, the sky, land and the lake are together connected. The space in the upper part was left to create a sky filled with golden, red and purple colors — textures that highlight the depths of the mixture of clouds and also suggest movements. The middle part was posted with layers of ink strokes, that in their variations of darkness, images of vegetation along with rolling lands emerge. Behind them, it is the end of the sky that was drowned in deep and misty red as though the sun is no longer to return. The black ink has worked so well on a piece of Chinese paper to bring out such amazing colors. The lower part of the painting is softening down with some yellow hues, patched with pale red and clots of grassy greens that present the calm and smooth lake surface. A long and slim purplish-blue line running across the painting, surprisingly, breaks down the quietness provided by the orange hue. The line’s quiet move, also once again, draws back the viewer’s attention to the painting. All these are created with the freedom that abstractness can provide, and of course, by the artist’s skill too. 

 

In Kwok’s works, the extent to which abstract conceptions are being applied actually varies from painting to painting, as to how extensive colors are being used. Abstract Landscape No. 7 is a good example of a high degree of both applications. However, there are rooms for viewers to reconnect with realism as they wish. Along the middle part of the painting, there are spaces broken up by lights and openings in colors that allow us to see rising clouds along the intercrossing slopes. Similar techniques are executed repeatedly over the painting and it successfully conveys the serenity look and character of the northern land. In fact, we could say that Kwok’s work has successfully brought out his own personality of being able to detach from common life and being able to create the images he enjoys most. Viewing his paintings, I am able to share the artist’s pure sense of beauty, and would like to express my feeling with the following four-line poem:

 

         The rivers and mountains of the Northern country are so pure.

         The pines are lush and lustrous on acres after acres.

         You created paintings that are poems of thousand lakes, 

         With a passion that shines through the glow of the evening sky.

                                            

         (Poem’s English translation by the author, Kan Kit-Keung)