谢曹闽 XIE CAOMIN

2010/2011 MOCA GA Working Artists Project

Samsāra

Mandala #12,13,16Installation view,Samsara, MOCA GA, From Left to Right: Mandala#12,13&16, oil on canvas, 144x109 inches, 2010-2012

Samsara, and Mandalas Made From Ruins:
First Notes on the New Work of Xie Caomin
Essay by Dr. Jerry Cullum


Samsara, and Mandalas Made From Ruins: First Notes on the New Work of Xie Caomin Mandalas are a marriage of mathematics and metaphysics. Their symmetries are meant to be a point of contemplative focus in which to realize the hidden repetitions and regularities of the (not necessarily religiously defined) universe.


Thus Xie Caomin’s mandala paintings, which create order from the chaos of the ruins of the World Trade Center out of which their imagery is extracted and (re)shaped, are about cycles and repetitions, rise and wreck followed in turn by the rise of new and different forms of order and technological advancement. The falling and rising again are not one, but they are part of the same cycle, the same dialectic. As Wallace Stevens wrote in "Connoisseur of Chaos," "a violent order is a disorder and a great disorder is an order."


This is, at least, one possible reading of these immense paintings. Given Xie’s exhibition’s freighted title Samsara, it is necessary to read the work at least momentarily in a more conventionally Buddhist fashion.


Samsara is the realm of illusion in which our personal and historical existence unfolds; it is the world created by desire.


Buddhism teaches that the turning wheel of transient existence is operated by conditioned origination, by a causality that is generated by grasping and/or longing for what is not yet ours. In other words, the force that gives birth to technological progress also generates suffering, decay, and death. You can’t have one without the other.


This inevitable dialectic also propels human history. Thus Xie’s repurposed ruins of the World Trade Center become an apt focus for meditation in his mandalas. Towers rise and fall for different historical reasons, but the rise and ruin all stem from identical existential causes.


All the passions behind construction and destruction, both positive and negative, arise out of the strange fundamental desire identified in Goethe’s epic drama Faust: the wish to hold on forever to a single transient moment, to make the moment both permanent and uniquely an individual possession. The Faust of Goethe’s drama, tellingly, finally finds such a moment in a successful technological project. (Thus an earlier historical epoch called the whole European project "Faustian.")
Goethe rescues his protagonist from the consequences of his grasping by declaring that salvation comes through eternal striving upward. This doesn’t quite solve the problem, and there is a deeply significant distinction between Faustian striving and Buddhist acceptance of the fact that desire condemns us forever to go round in circles.


We don’t have to believe that there is a way out, the way of desirelessness identified by the Buddha, in order to believe in the circular dialectic of rise and ruin and reconstruction driven by human passions. Xie’s mostly unbroken symmetries contain none of the traditional emblems of higher realms of being, although they may replace them with an order that contains all that Buddhism knew as the full range of imprisonment and liberation. The central images of these mandalas echo the Buddha palaces and the symbols of spiritual fulfillment that are found in traditional Buddhist objects of contemplation, but only the shapes are traditional. In Xie’s work, that which was formerly represented as a realm of perfected beings who aid in our way out of the labyrinth of desire has become a network of new perceptions that is formed by the shards and fragments of our own catastrophes.


In the Mandalas of Ruins series, each mandala painting operates on a distinctly different geometry, even though their prevalently dark palettes are similar. (The lighter tones of #13 are the only unambiguous exception. #14 and #16 are a mix of light and dark in which the dark is the defining background.)


It is the contrast of light against a dominant dark that makes forms possible at all in most of these paintings. Only in #17 do we begin to see passages of dark on dark that, taken far enough, would lead to something like Ad Reinhardt’s black-on-black canvases. Xie almost certainly will not go there; the dialectical logic of the mandala itself would forbid


such a one-sided reading of the prospects of the luminous dark — a potential luminosity of darkness itself which seems very nearly bodied forth in Mandala #14, where the light itself seems born from the uniform darkness of the background.

video samsara

"Samsara" , Still Image , Video Projection


In the video titled Samsara, the jeweled geometry of change becomes a literal kaleidoscope which begins as a slow swirl and gathers speed as it cycles through the elements, of which water is the most contemplative and fire the most spectacular. The creation and dissolution of patterns yield far more illuminated and/or luminous possibilities than paint alone will allow.


The cycle devoted to the element of earth is momentarily almost stable, though it is only the slowest of the cycles and thus only seems to pause. Forms grow and dissolve and finally explode in a burst of energy not unlike the Big Bang with which, the physicists say, our particular universe arose — or, even more, like Buddhism’s Clear Light and the formlessness that underpins the shadow show of history.
Continuous flux becomes hypnotic. Different speeds of rotation produce mesmerizingly seductive visual effects. It is almost impossible to turn away from the projection’s rich pageant.


That is, of course, exactly what samsara is, an ever more complex cycle of creation and destruction that need only be stepped out of to perceive its illusory qualities. The question on which Europe and Asia have historically diverged is whether or not we want to lose our attachment to the great round of physical change, and whether practicing compassion without identifying with our actions is possible or even desirable.


The wheel of history and nature has continued to turn, however, and what was once a simple opposition has become fruitfully complicated by the interpenetration of ideas: linear history has been supplanted by a fascination with fragments and incompletion, and a once-solid faith in material processes has been decentered and displaced by an awareness of the fragile nature of the structures erected by mind in response to the cravings of mind and body. At the same time that nature has come to seem more historical, history has come to seem more governed by nature: knowledge of the human genome and of our neurological circuits has seemed to define the limits of what was once thought to be an indeterminate capacity for freely determined action, and this knowledge of our inbuilt limits comes at just the moment when human activity is changing the underlying physical structure of the entire planet on which humanity dwells.


In their combination of slightly broken symmetry and untrammeled energy, traditional realizations and technological underpinnings, Xie’s Mandalas of Ruins paintings would seem to be an excellent visual metaphor for our present situation. As Buddhist thought and the sociology of knowledge and culture would tell us, we live, like it or not, in a condition of being that might well be called Samsara. Xie’s work leaves it up to us to decide whether there is a way of escape, and if so, what.

Mandala15,17

废墟中的轮回与曼荼罗:论谢曹闽的绘画

杰瑞 科伦姆


曼荼罗是数学与形而上学的联姻。图像中对称的图案为观者提供了一个凝神的焦点。观者可以通过这一焦点去理解隐藏其中的(不仅仅局限于宗教中的)宇宙的循环及其规律。


因此,谢曹闽的曼荼罗绘画是关于在技术进步的各种形式与更新中的事物周而复始的生成与毁灭的景观;这些都是基于过对世贸中心废墟混乱图像的抽离和再组合。这种沉沦与升华中的事物不是作为一个单子,而是作为共同的循环和辩证关系中的一个部分。, 正如华莱士 斯蒂文斯所说的:“暴力的秩序是一种混乱,而伟大的混乱则是一种秩序。”


这只是对这些巨大的画作的一种可能的解读。考虑到“轮回”这一展览的主题,对作品至少是暂时的和更为传统的佛教式的解读是有必要的。

轮回的世界是幻觉的世界;一个由欲望驱使的世界;我们个体的和历史的存在在此间展开。


释家教育人们,事物短暂存在之因,必导致此事物最后发展的结果,这即是因果之法轮。换句话说,科技进步的力量带来的成与住必与其坏和空相伴。人无法取一而舍它。


这个无可避免的辩证性同样推动着人类的历史。因此,谢曹闽在他的曼荼罗中恰当地将废墟中世贸中心转换为一个冥想的焦点。纽约世贸双塔的建造与毁灭虽然有着其不同的历史缘由,但是,这二者皆源于一个同一的存在之因果。


建造与毁灭背后所隐藏的亦正亦邪的激情,它来自于一个古怪的原初欲望,就如歌德的史诗般的戏剧中的浮士德:期盼着短暂的时刻长住,将瞬间化为永恒与独特,并为己所拥有。歌德的浮士德,显然最终在科学技术中找到了这个时刻。(因此,在一个早先的历史时期,有人称欧洲统一项目为“浮士德主义”)。


通过宣称救赎来自于永恒的向上抗争,歌德将他的主人公从贪婪中解救了出来。但这并没有解决问题;在浮士德式的抗争与佛陀所认为的人因欲望之驱使而堕于轮回之间有着明显而深刻的区别。


我们无需通过相信世间终有解脱之路;如佛陀所说的无欲无求是得解脱,而去理解人因情欲驱使而流转于成住坏空的辩证之轮回之中。在传统的曼荼罗绘画的中心,通常有一个象征着功德圆满的佛陀的宫殿。但是在谢曹闽那些近乎是连续的对称图像中并不包含这个传统象征意义上的最高存在之域,尽管这些连续的图像本身已包含佛学中的各种关于禁锢与解脱的各种理解。在他的曼荼罗形式的绘画的中心,作为出离了欲望迷宫之后的极乐世界被一种由我们自身灾难而造成的碎片所组成的网络视界所取代。


在“废墟的曼荼罗系列”中,每幅曼陀罗绘画都运行在一个显著不同的几何平面, 尽管他们拥有者相同的深色色调(#13的浅色调为唯一显著的例外。#14和#16为深浅混合,而深色为凸显的背景颜色。)


正是这种运用了浅色突出的大片的深色上面对比方式让了画面中的图像得以呈现。只有在#17中我们开始看到深色与深色的映衬,如果继续发展, 会让我们联想到埃迪莱茵阿特的黑色画。 这显然不是谢的绘画方向;曼陀罗本身的辩证逻辑会打破这种对发光黑色的解读----#14中呈现出了黑暗中的潜在的明亮,光源本身好似诞生于那统一的黑暗背景之中。


在名为“轮回”的录像艺术中, 如宝石般变幻的几何体变成为一个确实的万花筒,由缓慢的漩涡开始,逐渐加速好像辗转循环于图像元素中,其中水为循环中的冥想而火为现实的存在。这些影像图案的创造和溶解产生出的明亮灿烂效果的可能性远远超过了绘画本身所能及的。

Samss


影像循环中给予土壤的元素部分是一段暂时性的静止。尽管它是其中最缓慢,看起来好似暂停了。 那些形状继续的发光,溶解,最终激增爆破消散于能量猝发中。不同于物理学家对于“大爆炸理论”的学说,我们宇宙所有的物质均高度密集在一点,存在极高的温度而引发大爆炸,之后物质开始向外膨胀, 形成我今天的宇宙。录像其最后的结果更等同于佛家的净光心与无象之境,这些巩固着历史的虚影。
影像的持续变幻增添了催眠效果。不同速度的旋转产生出催眠般的视觉诱惑。这几乎无法使人从这个影像盛宴中抽身离去。


当然,这就完全是在轮回的宇宙之中,一个更加复杂的循环,创造与毁灭,只有在这个圈外才能察觉到它的幻象本质。面对欧洲与亚洲历史性的分裂,问题就在于我们是否想失去对物质改造的伟大轮回的依附,和是否想激发起一种怜悯而无需去鉴别我们的行动是否可能或者是否值得。


历史与自然之轮不断地运转着,然而,理念的相互贯通使一个简单的反面变得异常复杂:线性的历史被一种碎片和不完整的迷惑所取代,曾经的对物质进程坚不可摧的信仰已偏离了中心,取而代之的是,在我们对身体及心灵的渴望中,对由心灵所建构的世界其脆弱的本质的认识。 同时,自然似乎已变得更加具有历史性,历史则更多地被自然所决定:历史好似被人类的基因的自然知识所统治和支配。我们的神经电路似乎可以任意定义曾经无法界定的行动极限。我们内在的能力和认知将被激发,而人类居住的星球的潜在物理结构正在被人类活动所变更。


轻微的不对称性,冲破束缚的能量,对传统的领悟与技术的支撑,在这些综合的展示下,谢曹闽的曼荼罗已然成为我们现实处境的绝佳视觉隐喻。就如佛家思想与社会学知识及文化告诉我们的一样,我们的存在,不管我们喜欢与否,这种情境或许该被称作轮回。
谢曹闽的作品把问题留给我们去思考:我们是否可能跳出这个轮回,如果是,那又会怎样?

Mandala14

Mandala#14, oil on canvas, 112x144 inches , Courtesy Museum of Contemporary Art Georgia



mandala#23

Mandala#23, oil on canvas, 96x120 inches, 2012

 

曼荼罗 废墟 绘画


谢曹闽


1. 曼荼罗


曼荼罗是冥想与几何学的偶遇。它是一门艺术形式,一个工具和一种宇宙观。观者通过对曼荼罗的注视,从而感悟宇宙万物的存在与变化。曼荼罗体现了佛教世界中的成,住,坏,空的轮回理念。


曼荼罗是规划与创造的结合体。它是连结着技术与艺术的同心圆。在这种连结之中,技术与其艺术的本源相联。


曼荼罗不是空洞的圆,而是以圆对宇宙真理的包容,以圆对宇宙在混沌中无限演化的领会。天地造化无形无象,变幻莫测。曼荼罗以圆画之。


曼荼罗意在揭示宇宙和生命在时间中的生灭规律。在对曼荼罗的观想中,人得以出离对生死的恐惧。


曼荼罗展现的是一个主客体无差别的宇宙, 即佛陀所说的无差别心。


曼荼罗所描绘的是宇宙万物无序与有序之间的辩证关系。


轮回的世界是个幻象。曼荼罗提供了一个观察这个幻象的视角。


佛教启迪人们万事有因必有果。因技术是人的天命,人对技术的盲目崇拜和对宇宙能量的无尽索取,技术最终成了人的宿命。


纽约世贸双塔的建立与毁灭展现了人类技术文明与生俱来的辩证性。虽然双塔的建立与毁灭有着不同的历史和政治背景,但是在曼荼罗的世界中,二者连结着一个共同的形而上因果。


曼荼罗是一个“O”。关于“O”:释曰圆觉,道曰金丹,儒曰太极。“O”在数学中意为“零”。 逻辑学家弗雷格说:零作为空概念是没有任何对象落在其中的概念。他以为,既使世界是空无一物,“O”作为"是一个“空概念"这样一个概念的概念还是存在的。

Mandala#22

Mandala#22, oil on canvas, 96x120 inches, 2012


2. 废墟
世界的现代化是世界的废墟化。人的观念在大厦的倾覆中以被肢解。世界的废墟化也是观念中的“人”的废墟化。现代的人是否总是处在废墟之中?


废墟与自然的无序性虽然有着有共同的特性,但是它不同于自然,废墟是造物的创造与毁灭的交汇点;工具的力与自然力的结合。


废墟所展现的不是虚无,而是存在对虚无的不懈抗争。正是废墟及其丰富的表面使得世界得以从虚无中得以解脱。废墟是一个形式的终点同时又是无限形式的开始。


人的诞生与死亡和一个建筑物从建起到毁灭,一个从无机到有机再回到无机的过程,一个从“多”到“一”再回到“多”的过程。废墟不是个终点,而是个包含着能量转换的场。


废墟是技术能量与宇宙能量的混合体。它使技术与自然因果结为一体。在废墟中,文明与自然之间的对立被消解。
身处现代文明,华莱士 斯蒂文斯论秩序与混沌:“暴力的秩序是一种混乱,而伟大的混乱则是一种秩序。”


佛在法句经中云:经多生轮回,寻求造屋者,但未得见之,痛苦再再生。已见造屋者! 不再造於屋。椽桷皆毁坏, 栋梁亦摧折。我即证无为,一切爱尽灭。


当代大众传媒不停地制造着各种关于工业废墟的世纪末的景观。在图像的时代,我们看到自己是如此迷恋于形式的无限与其死亡之间的各种幻想。


从九一一到中东战争再到最近的金融危机,二十一世纪的头十年就是一个关于废墟的时代。这个时代的废墟已不再是一种浪漫主义式的景观,而是各种关于地缘政治矛盾冲突的符号片段。


废墟是建筑的“O”,我们可以毁灭一座建筑物,但我们无法消灭一座废墟。

 

mandala13

Mandala #13, oil on canvas, 109x144 inches, 2010


3. 绘画
我们不能将绘画理解成一种形式或一个对象。绘画应该被理解成观念本身。不存在所谓观念性的绘画,只有绘画的观念。作为观念,绘画不断地诞生与死亡,在不同的文化形态中被否定的绘画同时也向各种可能性不断的开放。


不是摄影在七十年代的再生终结了绘画,而是摄影在七十年代向绘画的回归使新媒体得以成为绘画。绘画因新媒体向它回归而超越了它在历史中的形式。并因此与它的各种死亡幻象相伴。


我们熟知的绘画的历史是一部关于绘画诞生的历史,是否有一部关于绘画死亡的历史?


现代影像技术肢解了绘画在历史中的统一性。技术延伸绘画的各个维度并将其推向极限最终摧毁了图像的统一。现代性绘画是图像的废墟。


作为“O”的图像废墟,绘画能够死亡吗?

 

 

 

Mandala#12

Mandala #12, oil on canvas, 109x144 inches, 2010