Cao Jigang
China, b.1955

Cao Jigang, was graduated from Material Expression Studio of Oil Painting Department of China Central Academy of Fine Arts, also was a professor at Foundation Year Program Department of China Central Academy of Fine Arts. Currently living, working in Beijing, China, and exhibiting widely in museums and curated exhibitions. Cao Jigang received the Silver Prize in The National Exhibition of Fine Arts in 1999. His work is included in public collection including The National Art Museum of China in Beijing, Shanghai Art Museum and New Hall of China International Exhibition Center in Beijing.

Cao Jigang’s work transcends the limits of either Chinese or Western painting, and he tries to demonstrate the “emptiness” in Chinese ink art by assorted methods. The way to depict “emptiness” in ink and wash painting is “Liu Bai”, leaving blank, not painted. It corresponds with the concept called “Wu Wei,” doing nothing, to represent the void. In contrast, the artist intends to show the “emptiness” by “You Wei,” doing something. He smears his art piece dozens of times, and therefore, layers of thin material can settle down while the painting gets dry. The “emptiness” formed through this thus has a strong sense of texture and materiality, and the feeling of heaviness. This kind of “emptiness” is “substantial” and the “void” comes from the “adequate”.

Ni Zan, a Chinese painter during the Yuan and early Ming periods, walked alone on his pilgrimage path of art and eventually entered an ultra-personal lonely world where there is no “flower blossom or water flowing.” Cao Jigang noted he would hope to follow Ni’s footsteps and reach a deserted and desolate uninhabited place, without flowing water or blooming flower. Although Chinese traditional landscape painting creates an ideal world where people can visit and live there, there is no pathway for viewers to enter Cao’s painting. His art keeps distance from human being and society. It is a confrontation or counter-image of real life. The landscape in his artwork has no warmth. It is cold, grim, and triggers no desire.

曹吉岡 談不同階段創作歷程1984-2022

Cao Jigang

我的創作大概分幾個階段。首先美院這個階段,因為在美院我始終在研究西方這個傳統的寫實繪畫語言。畢業之後仍然覺得這方面還不夠,所以繼續沿著這個方向往下研究,所以就畫了第一個階段的《長城》系列。這批畫其實我畫畫好像憑直覺吧!很多後來的解讀,都不是我開始就設想或是要追求的,我是憑著直覺,覺得我要這麽做,不管哪個階段,到現在也一直是這種狀態,《長城》這個系列想法也是很簡單,因為我一直就是喜歡廢墟或者比較荒涼的風景。所以畢業之後也很自然地就選擇長城這個題材,因為我畫的長城跟別人有些不同,完全是一種廢墟的呈現,過於完整的長城我是不會表現。因為它的挫敗感才有繪畫性,才有更多的內涵。這是那個階段,所以畫了這個用我認為是純粹歐洲的油畫語言畫的《長城》系列,我畫長城已經有罩染的手法在裏面。

這批長城畫了可能有 5-6 年,到了 1990 年代初,當時覺得不想再用這種語言來畫油畫,希望有所改變就做了一些嘗試。因為本身也是喜歡中國的山水畫,就希望能夠在兩者之間有一個融合。開始用鉛筆畫了壹些鉛筆的作品。1990-1991 年在美術館辦了一個長城的展覽,在辦展覽之前的準備工作的時候, 因為我都是油畫都是尺幅比較大,我希望有一些小的畫,能夠穿插在裏面展覽的空間比較活躍。如果全是大幅的油畫會顯得有些陳悶,所以想劃一些小畫,所以想到用鉛筆畫在材料和表現手段上有不同,會顯得展覽面貌更豐富,所以就嘗試鉛筆在紙上來畫。相對來說也比較快,可以在比較短的時間,準備出需要的數量的鉛筆畫,所以用鉛筆來畫。畫的過程中用了一些松香定畫液,一般是噴在素描上達到固定鉛粉的作用。我是用毛筆沾著定畫液染在這個鉛筆畫上,染的過程把鉛融化了一部分,所以出現了一種像水墨或者水彩或者銅版畫,這是一個偶然的發現。

大約2000年前後,我開始研究坦培拉進行創作。坦培拉是一個翻譯詞,Tempera譯音,是混和攪拌的意思。坦培拉,是用油和水兩種材料攪拌和成一種媒介,用這種媒介來畫的畫就叫坦培拉繪畫。坦培拉繪畫媒介也分幾種, 雞蛋坦培拉是最常用的壹種材料,所以一般覺得坦培拉就等同於蛋彩。雞蛋坦培拉或稱蛋彩,坦培拉大多都指這個蛋彩坦培拉,它的特點最早可以追溯到公元前就開始有這種材料,這是一種非常復雜、非常麻煩的一種材料和繪畫的方式,因為它需要一個比較漫長的時間,慢慢地達到一種效果,它經過多年的改進,發展之後逐漸變成油畫。油畫它有很多方便之處,所以坦培拉這種材料基本上沒人再采用了。雖然這種材料非常麻煩,但是它有一種其他材料無法替代的審美價值,比方說它的半透明性,那種內在的光感,像瓷釉壹般或像玉一般的那種溫潤的質感,這個是任何一種材料替代不了的,這也是我為什麽選擇它的原因。

坦培拉因為這種材料特點,是一種半透明狀,仔細看作品妳會看進去,妳會看到色層下面的東西,操作好之後會有這種效果,會有往後滲透的感覺。所以創作過程是一個非常理性的過程。因為需要事先有一個計劃預判,妳通過幾步之後想要達到什麽效果。雖然之中有些變化,但事先必須要有設想在裏面,然後一步一步的通過一遍一遍的染,逐漸把妳想要的東西顯現出來,所以不能急躁,必須是緩慢地進行,而且如果妳有激情沖動,也必須控制把它在理性的畫面內,不讓它干擾妳的這種很有條理的步驟,一步一步的方法就像一種慢慢修行,每張畫都是緩慢讓它逐漸伸展完成的一個結果。

Selected Exhibitions

2020 When Tempera met Shansui, Bluerider ART , Taipei
2018 The Fifteen Sceneries·Cao Jigang Solo Exhibition, Zhuzhong Art Museum, Beijing
2015 “Cao Jigang Little Painting Works Exhibition”, Zhuzhong Art Museum, Beijing
2014 “Empty Cold: Chora-topia of Nature”, Soka Art Center, Beijing
2014 “Abstraction and Nature”, Zhuzhong Art Museum, Beijing
2013 “Darkness Visible: Group Show of Ten Artists from China and US” National Art Museum of China, Beijing
2012 “In Time: 2012 Chinese Oil Painting Biennial”, National Art Museum of China, Beijing
2012 “Vaulting Limits”, Tenri Cultural Institute, New York
2011 “Giving and Receiving”, Art Museum of University of Colorado, Colorado
2009 “Contemporary Expression of Traditional Thoughts”, National Art Museum of China
,Beijing
2008 “Image-China”, National Art Museum of China, Beijing
2008 “In Depth: Exhibition of Faculties of Central Academy of Fine Arts”, Today Art Museum, Beijing
2007 “Facing and Dealing: Sino-Us Artist Exhibition”, National Art Museum of China, Beijing
2003 “Beijing Biennial”, National Art Museum of China, Beijing
2001 “Conversation between Durer and Chinese Landscape Painting-Exhibition of Cao Jigang”, Beijing
1998 Chinese Landscape Exhibition, National Art Museum of China, Beijing
1996 The First China Oil Painting Society Exhibition
1994 The 8th National Fine Arts Exhibition, National Art Museum of China, Beijing
1992 Cao Jigang Solo Exhibition, National Art Museum of China, Beijing

Awards

Salon des Beaux Arts (Gold award)
Beijing Outstanding Award
The 9th National Fine Arts Exhibition (Silver award)
Beijing Fine Arts Exhibition to Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Establishment of People’s Republic of China (Silver award)
Xinzhu Cup Traditional Chinese Painting and Oil Painting Exhibition (Silver award)

Collections

National Art Museum of China
Shanghai Art Museum
China Arts Exhibition Center
The 7th National Fine Arts Exhibition


藝術對談: Bluerider ART Elsa Wang v.s. 曹吉岡

Trailer: 曹吉岡 ‘當坦培拉預見山水’ ‘When Tempera met Shashui’ 2020.9.26-11.29

藝術對談: Bluerider ART Elsa Wang v.s. 夏可君教授

The Four Phases of Cao Jigang’s Paintings and His Position in the Third Stage of Chinese Painting in Art History

Xia Kejun Ph.D

Cao Jigang is an artist who I discovered. I was impressed when the first time I saw his artworks at an auction house a decade ago, and I attempted to contact him right away. Afterward, in the exhibition of ‘In Time - 2012 Chinese Oil Painting Biennale’ at the National Art Museum of China, I saw the tremendous 7 meter long large scale tempera artwork, ‘Guangling Melody’. The majestic sorrow with cultural-historical insight and the sense of classic had impressed me. I then invited him to participate in my series exhibitions of ‘Infra-mince art, which I started to have a deeper understanding of Cao Jigang.

His painting path can be divided into four phases.

The representative work of his first phase is ‘The Great Wall’ series created in the 1990s. Although the works showed the characteristic of Chinese academic art that revealed realism in landscape sketching, Cao Jigang particularly chose the Great Wall as his solely sketching object. The artwork demonstrated his attempt to set memorial still lives off with a vast background not only between natural ruins and historical symbols, but also broad poetry and individual loneliness. The work forms a painting language that consists of a firm shape with boundless meanings, as well as creating his dual-return mindset of naturalizing history while historicizing nature. He is capable of exploring the in-depth sorrow that hidden or buried in history.

The second phase started from the new century in 2000s. Cao Jigang began to explore the techniques of tempera with some other professors at the Central Academy of Fine Arts. During the first decade of the new century, he immersed himself in finding ways to combine the transparent glazing skills of tempera and the method of combining the skills with Chinese ink washed painting, which enabled him to obtain the forgotten jade texture and the glazing perception.

Stepping into the third phase from 2010s, Cao Jigang still focused on landscape sketching. However, he integrated the visual memory of literati landscape paintings since the Song Dynasty, and he ingeniously merged the natural vividness with historical-cultural images. Taking the ‘Guangling Melody’ as an example, he managed to mourn the historical sorrow with modern majesty. Meanwhile, he rejuvenated the mist vividness of landscape sketching by presenting the implicit textures as infra-mince shadows. On the other hand, regarding the series artworks of ‘Taihu Stone’, the paradoxical combination of the firmness of still lives and the vastness of quaint tone. The mountains and stones are like abundant flowing Zen, which injects the beauty of lightness that the glazing of tempera paintings never had. It seems like the objects were given spiritual breathes.

The fourth phase began from 2018, especially the latest paintings that exhibited at Cao Jigang’s first solo exhibition with Bluerider ART. The painting language of Cao Jigang simplified even more obliquely and separates the picture into black and white. Moreover, with a bit of extruding and staggering, the plain poetry and profound empty-cold feelings manage to calm the hidden sadness. The minimalist compositions of the paintings are similar to the calmness and peacefulness exhibited from the edge of Song porcelain. The perfect integration of the abstract concept of minimalism and natural, historical poetry is as the poetic aura of the Southern Song Dynasty lingers around.

To appreciating Cao Jigang’s paintings, we must comprehend systematically about the originality of modern aesthetic discourse in the art history of the Greater Chinese. As a philosopher, a researcher of art history, and a contemporary curator that criticizes and practices, I attempt to consider the modern development of Chinese painting from a comprehensive perspective and try to build a historical pedigree of the three generations.

The representatives of the first generation artists such as Yun Gee and Sanyu who lived abroad in the first half of the 20th century. Their works echoes with the cubism and expressionism in the Western world. Back In China, Huang Bin-Hong and Qi Baishi, who led the breakthrough to the modernity of ink wash paintings and their works show the transformation of freehand brushwork and daily lives.

The second generation led by Zao Wou-Ki and Chu Teh-Chun who lived in France in the 1960s and 1970s, the second half of the 20th century. They merged the delicate literati strokes of sketch, wrinkle, dot, and rub into the Western abstract lyrical colors, which forms lyrical, poetic landscapes with blurred changes between the sensation of natural and abstract. On the other hand, in China, there were Wu Guanzhong and his mentor Lin Fengmain in the 1980s. Stepping into the 21st century, Chinese artists had experienced the difficult exploration of individual words during the 1990s, which acquired insight learning or inherited the abstract lyrical strokes of Zao Wou-Ki. Later, they developed the language of paintings. This is the stage what I called ‘Neo-modernism in Imaginary Color’, and the artists including Qiu Shihua and Shang Yang. For a younger representative of this stage would be Cao Jigang.

The reasons why Cao Jigang’s paintings are the ones that manifest and represent the new direction of the third generation of Chinese painting specifically focused on language features and contributions of his artworks listed as below:

Firstly, Cao Jigang re-obtained the unique ‘Jade Texture’ of Chinese civilization, which restores the poetic memories with the accumulated ‘Patina’ in natural history. It was like the transparent beauty of “Ink Concealing Color” and “Color Concealing Ink” from the jade ware in Xia Dynasty that Huang Bin-Hong found in his later ages. Additionally, it was like the setting that the jade texture as the supreme life sensation from Song porcelain, in which only Chinese have remained and accumulated the natural sensation of “Patina”. It consists of the dual poetic memories that naturalize history while historicizing nature. The techniques that Cao Jigang uses to mix the repeated glazing technique of tempera with the layering skills of ink washed painting. This is a combination of two classic techniques from the East and the West, which brings back the long-lost ‘Jade Texture’. Such a cold jade texture contains the modern life perception and resistance, which balances the accelerated heat released from the over-busy lifestyles of modern people and calms our empty minds. It is a warm, delicate texture and insightful sensation of historical time that the previous two generations did not fully deliver.

Secondly, the artworks manage to express the classical literati beauty in the form of contemporary minimalism and elegance. Despite Huang Bin-Hong demonstrated some sublime blossoms in his late ages, he used mainly freehand brushwork with awesomeness, which had some gaps into the desolate and empty-cold poetry. Nonetheless, Zao Wou-Ki’s paintings after the 1980s were more closed to abstract and color field painting, which entered the sensation of beyond humanity and performance. It can regain the essence of Chinese aesthetics only by mastering the vast desolate aesthetics of Tang Dynasty and the plain lightness of Song Dynasty. This is the primary development of the third painting generation. The paintings of Cao Jigang in recent years demonstrate minimalist composition, the elegant tone of black, white, and gray, and the oblique separation and the calmness of the horizontal distance looks like natural scenery, but only a vanished shadow remained. The large white spaces reveal subtle changes of color layers, which the thin lightness seems floating and the slight waves are like the minds that suddenly move far away. Everything resembles indiscernible yet clears our hearts. The legacy dream of Southern Song appears again, and painting has reached the realm of fantastic masterpieces.

Lastly, from the perspective of graphic language in painting, Cao Jigang successfully merges the vivid changes of nature with the graphics of historical literati ingeniously. It presents the inward detachment of modern isolated individuals by utilizing the traditional Chinese art theory of ‘Three Distances’ which reconnects minds with nature. It will shape the aesthetics of our living areas when we exhibit Cao Jigang’s minimalist artworks that illustrate ‘the style of Song paintings’ together with Song porcelain or Ming furniture in a contemporary abundant ancient atmosphere space. The mixture of ancient atmosphere with contemporary artworks, and daily plainness with detached poetry perfectly are a ‘spiritual fasting’ experience which settle the tiredness and busy minds of nowadays people.

The Tempera Painting of Cao Jigang: Reflection of Jade, Deep Concentration, and Minimalism

Xia Kejun

幾乎世界上所有人都知道達文西的《蒙娜麗莎》的微笑之美,但知道其繪畫技術上秘密的人就少了,那帶有幻美的微笑似乎被罩上了一層層神秘的面紗,此面紗之美來自於畫家所使用的「暈塗法」。據說達文西融合了30層超薄油彩,每層厚度僅為1至2微米,通過使用各種細膩的顏料和添加劑對畫作進行層層渲染, 從而創造出朦朧又薄透的過渡效果,使油畫中生硬的輪廓變得更加柔和,那微笑才顯得如此迷人又遙不可及。

一般認為《蒙娜麗莎》的材質是木版油畫,但極有可能在那個「坦培拉」蛋彩為主的繪畫時代,也許應該用「混合材料」才準確,即這是一幅以坦培拉做底色,儘管畫面含油的色層比較明顯,蛋彩痕跡不多,但也有使用,可能就是運用了基底的豐富色層,或者利用了坦培拉反復罩染的透明畫法才有後來的油畫色層效果。而用油畫顏料不僅能塗得極薄,乾透後還可以反復覆蓋和修改,將此優點發揮得淋灕盡致的就是「暈塗法」,而其底色則是「坦培拉」的技法及其感知原理。

因此,什麼是「坦培拉」(Tempera)技法?這是一種文藝復興時期的繪畫技法,以含有水、油成分的乳液為媒介劑,利用預製的乳液作為顏料結合劑作畫的技法,這種黏稠、渾濁的乳液大多使用蛋黃或者全蛋為乳化劑,或者加入適量的油和醋,用它調和顏料作畫,不但乾得快,而且表面還會有蛋殼般的柔潤光澤,經過反復打磨與晾乾後,一層層透明色層余留下來,還能夠保持色彩的最大鮮艷度,甚至帶有一種大理石的質感,或者說透明如雲的質感。

Except for the difficulty of the technique and the texture of the colors, such a complicated painting process may also possess a sacred sense of reverence from the artists toward arts or religions, presenting strong faith as the deep and indelible texture. The elaborate process is meant to enrich the colors, as like the tens of trapping halos from the heaven that shines eternally.

幾乎所有人都知道中國宋代的官窯,比如汝窯與定窯的純粹極致之美,甚至「中國」這個詞就給予了「瓷」的名稱,比如有著極簡造型的白瓷與青瓷,為什麼中國人在日常的器物上都追求這樣的單色質感?製作出如此高級的形而上質感?此單色已經被賦予了純粹的極致,其「玉質感」上縈繞著的樸素又幽微的靈暈(Aura),如此切近又如此遙遠,幾乎成為一種聖物。

為什麼「玉質感」成為了中國文化至高的生命質感?從夏代的玉開始,如同黃賓虹所言,已經有著「色隱墨」與「墨隱色」的秘密,從玉器的道德禮儀化走向玉質感的純粹審美化,作為一種文化生命的至純質感,無論是詩意的玉階夜露,還是小說的通靈寶玉,玉質感乃是文化生命與個體生命最為隱秘的記憶。

玉質感,從玉石到宋瓷的玉質感,不同於古代的琉璃,不同於現代的玻璃,不同於西方古典的油質光感,也不同於中國傳統水墨的墨光,不同於當代單色畫的單一性,也不同於當代光電色感的變幻,乃是一種日常可觸又神秘遙遠的觸感,一種總是帶有靈暈的觸感,一種具有時間包漿浸潤的深度觸感,有著溫潤而沈酣的安寧之美,讓現代人渙散的心魂得以凝聚起來。

繪畫,如果還有著存在的理由,有著存在的獨特感知,有著動人心魂的美,那就必須「做出」如此的玉質感來,這幾乎是繪畫唯一且最後的秘密。

Since the beginning of the 21st century, couple of professors from the Oil Painting Department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing attempted to retrieve the egg tempera technique from ancient western society. They have been exploring the skills for years, and Cao Jigang is one of the core members. In other words, twenty years ago, Cao Jigang had given up the oil painting skills that he had employed for a long time. Instead, he started to re-explore the contemporary value of tempera paintings.

為什麼選擇坦培拉這種複雜的技法?幾十層的罩染,反復打磨,不同的顏料多次處理,如同一個考古挖掘的工作,有著複雜的程序,如同版畫的製作過程,但更為需要耐心,需要停頓,需要考量光澤的變化與透明的程度,最終獲得一種材質的光澤感,這是水性與油性都沒有的那種質感,一種如同大理石、如同玉質,如同瓷釉一般的——玉質感。

The jade texture condenses all kinds of technical skills, aesthetic purposes, and the work of mind cultivation. A task that needs endurance with time-intensity; the work requires tremendous concentration and exquisite sensitivity. These traits are the abundance that the modern accelerate era to be lack of, especially the sense of time in conceptual art.

當「坦培拉」遇見「山水」,那會如何?整個傳統山水畫的文化圖像記憶,整個文人美學山川如玉的生命記憶,都有待於以當代的感知方式,加以重建。而對於曹吉岡而言,在學習了坦培拉技法之後,他並不滿足於技藝帶來的挑戰與快感,他嘗試以水墨的質感來改造坦培拉,就是要讓坦培拉的繪畫具有中國宋代的水墨氣息,同時,還要具有玉質感或瓷釉的質感。這就導致了雙重的改變,在已經非常透明的坦培拉技法後,再次加入水墨的暈染滲透性(儘管坦培拉的白粉打底具有吸納性),以及玉質的深度時間觸感(比西方坦培拉的玉質感更為豐富溫潤)。對於曹吉岡,這並非僅僅是「技法」的研究,而是「技近乎道」的轉化。

當「坦培拉」遇見「山水」,曹吉岡的繪畫就開始於寫生,以傳達自然的豐富變化,而不陷入抽象的概念操作與重複製作,但又不是習作式的即興寫生,在保留自然自身的豐富變化時,必須巧妙地加入文化歷史的深度。

Secondly, Cao Jigang illustrates the cultural-historical memories of traditional landscape paintings through his works. Therefore, he created such a vivid landscape painting with the part of a valley seems to echo with the Snow Mountains by Guo Xi, an artist in Song Dynasty, which shows a flash of a classic part in a Song Dynasty artwork.

Thirdly, his paintings are definitely not like a partial enlargement but the accumulation of many layers of time perception that mixes the vitality at that moment with time differences. Layering the iconography of historical cultures and pushing the scene before your eyes to the extremely far away. It is not the extreme of the naked eye, but the extreme of historical memories, among which, mixing a pinch of vicissitudes. Take the tremendous artwork, “Guangling San”, for example, the scene contains in-depth historical tragedy.

其四,隨著坦培拉的層層罩染方法,傳統的水墨黑白獲得了厚重感,就如同晚明龔賢的積墨法,一層層的痕跡余留,宛若歷史創傷心跡的塗抹,但都疊印在繪畫的表面,看似什麼都沒有,其實細微的顆粒感,斑駁的痕跡,都被余留在了透明的色層之下,得到了深情的呵護。坦培拉的技法難道不就是一種生命殘損痕跡的愛撫與保護?不就是過往記憶痕跡的回光返照?

其五,繪畫在這個網絡虛擬加速時代的價值在於,帶來停頓的凝視,在散心時代重新確立專心的凝神,但這伴隨一種生命質感的改變,是改變我們熱血加速的生命力,越是熱烈就越是需要冷寂,加速白熱化的現代性需要一種極度的冷感,一種空寒與空靜的詩意意境,才可能平衡,這是生命觸感的迫切需要,而如此的冷感需要以玉質感的極度空寒體現出來!這種深遠冷感的回返,荒寒與空寒的意境,重現了玉質的冷感,以此轉化我們躁動不安的心靈,古典的詩意也獲得了當代的表達。

The contemporary value of Cao Jigang’s paintings is the repeated glazing in tempera layers. He changes our perceptions about life and rebuilds our souls by the memories in the poetry of cultural history and the jade texture triggered by empty-cold poetry.

最近幾年,曹吉岡的作品發生了更為深沈的變化,在本次Bluerider Art代理的首個展上,我們看到了更多的新作與令人心折的探索,這也是為何Bluerider Art特意把本次展覽的主題命名為:《當「坦培拉」遇見「山水」》,就是為了表明如此遙遠的兩個古典,在當代的相遇,將會撞擊出什麼樣的燦爛火花!

畫面上,不再直接看到寫生的風景,而是更為簡化,宛若南宋的半角或者折邊,就是黑白的切分。

Something seems like mountains, may it be a split of an abstract concept or even the contrast of black and white colors. Nonetheless, they are not abstract paintings but something with light creases. The gentleness of seams at the edges of mountains lingers the deep emotion of the artist.

在平遠的安寧注目中,帶入一種深遠的暗示,中國古代的「三遠法」,在曹吉岡的繪畫上,以更為簡化抽象的方式呈現出來,又被賦予了氣氛的微妙顫慄。

There is a bit of gray appeared on the surface seems merely black and white, which are like the new three primary colors. The painting has again divided into three, which are the parts of gentleness, dimness, and poetry. These parts present the bright and elegant poetry to the entire artwork. Because the lightness at the edges of the outlines and the seams, the three parts seem to float secretly with meandering breathes.

在那些更為極簡的作品上,並非西方抽象的極簡主義,而是僅僅留下一抹淡痕的煙影,漂浮的煙色,若有若無。正是這一縷煙色,一抹煙影,在消逝與輓留之間,既恍惚又雋永,迷人又迷離,透明又豐富,以極為超然的姿態,被畫家瞬間凝定在了畫面上。

這是一片冰心玉印的世界,山形的輪廓,僅僅留下一抹抹透明又輕逸的痕跡,宛若宋瓷杯口的邊沿。其空寒安寧又煙色輕染的氣息,也許就是北宋的王詵,元代的倪瓚,明代的董其昌與王翚,無數次在岩巒疊嶂與煙嵐浮動上要傳達的隱秘詩意?儘管進入現代性之後,面對寫生與照相的雙重壓力,此詩意的技藝觸感,幾乎失傳了,但在曹吉岡這裡,借助於坦培拉的技藝,石如雲動,煙霞淡影,經過水墨與玉質雙重質感的轉化,空寒意境的靈暈得以重現。

恍惚與漂浮,瞬間又永恆,繪畫藝術在一種含蓄的張力中,給現代虛無急迫的倉皇心靈,以從容不迫的凝神契機,沒有什麼比煙雲更為無常漂浮,也沒有什麼比山巒更為永恆穩定。但在曹吉岡的坦培拉繪畫上,漂浮之物獲得安穩,恆定之物開始浮動,反轉後的重新結合,如此單純又如此靜謐,至深的荒寒詩意獲得了當代的表達。

曹吉岡的新繪畫,之為虛色美學的代表,既不同於趙無極極為富有情緒表現力的筆觸書寫性的抽象風景,也不同於林壽宇的極簡主義條狀比率化製作的抽象拼貼,而是更為徹底深入到中國古代的詩意意境中,卻又有著極簡思維與抽象情調的邏輯。

當「坦培拉」遇見「山水」,這是兩個古典的神交,兩種至高氣質在當代的疊印,這是一當代的簡致與抽象,來吸取古典的精髓,加以詩意的結合。這是華人繪畫所可能給出的新貢獻:一方面向著古典的詩意心境回歸,另一方面又有著更為純粹的抽象簡化;一方面重現西方古典技藝的輝煌光澤之美,另一方面又是中國古典玉質觸感的雋永詩意,此雙重古典的復興與結合,此古典的心性與高雅的情調,在現代簡致又純粹的時尚感中,獲得觸感的深度。只有不斷保持此悖論的張力,才是繪畫世界化的標準,才讓繪畫可以走得更遠,更為迷人。曹吉岡的繪畫就是在如此的張力中展開,高級又高雅,極簡又藴藉,我們對其未來的探索之路,抱有由衷的期待。

夏可君 教授Ph.D Xia, Kejun

哲學家、評論家與策展人,哲學博士,於德、法博士後研究。著有哲學藝術等多部著作。策劃超過二百多場國內外重要展覽及研討會,提出中國現代審美話語的獨立建構,為當代藝術中國立論產生深遠影響。

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