羅迪尼・狄克森:畫作

Rodney Dickson: Painting

 

時間:2015年1月9日至3月15日 Date: 9 Jan. - 15 Mar., 2015

開幕茶會:2015年1月9日日下午七時 Opening Reception: 9 Jan., 2015 19:00

地點:路由藝術 Venue: NUNU FINE ART

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你如何定義成功?你與生俱來的天性和教養有多重要?毅力是否可以成就一位藝術家?若你留在家鄉,是否依然會成為一位藝術家?Rodney Dickson居住於紐約布魯克林,以創作為生。過去十年內,他舉辦了十六次個展,兩次在東京,三次在胡志明市;十四場"事件"展覽,舉辦地點包括墨西哥城、仰光、河內、北京、紐約、貝爾法斯特、邁阿密,及洛杉磯;六個裝置展於紐約;參與了四十六場聯展和兩個駐村計劃,一個在中國,另一個在越南;規劃了八個工作坊,分布於緬甸、越南,及紐約;並榮獲了九個獎項。以上這些,看來都距離一個1956年出生於班戈,成長於充滿了北愛問題的愛爾蘭紐頓納茲的小男孩相當遙遠。

他於23歲離開紐頓納茲。雙親皆是學校教師,都對藝術不感興趣。Rodney說道『要我成為藝術家的可能性從小就完全不在考量內。我身旁認識的人大多成了汽車機械工、木匠或工廠技師,如果是在校成績不錯的則成了老師。』他喜歡繪畫自己喜歡的東西:機車;此一喜好仍延續至今。1979年,他的母親建議他申請藝術學校,『因為這看來是"我唯一至少感興趣的事。』。 Dickson成功的錄取利物浦技校(現為利物浦約翰摩爾斯大學), 該校當時的主任Jeff Nuttall(學者、繪畫、表演藝術家)帶領下,非常的 自由、開明、先進。Dickson當時對卡雷爾‧阿佩爾(Karel Appel)和非主流藝術(Outsider Art)深感興趣,但影響他最深的是他的繪畫老師Mike Knowles,兩人現在仍維持很好的友誼。Knowles描述Dickson早期是『很多人認為他無法歸類…深受能力所限,無法表達自我而苦"並"缺乏明顯的技法,但對我而言,他看來擁有超乎常人的決心、及對藝術無比的熱情,我相信他會繼續創作出有趣,甚至是超乎意料的作品。他過去是美術系中最精力旺盛的人,顛覆傳統、時常酒醉、輕蔑浪費時間的人、敦促自己、自我批評但正面以待,一個極好但對老師而言是個挑戰的學生。』

那些年輕時期的隱晦不明及帶有破壞性的笨拙已經消失,但來自北愛爾蘭的挫折、憤怒和攻擊性仍在滋養著他的藝術。他將自己視為一個來自"因衝突而益發心胸狹隘的小型封閉社會"的外來者,他在那得到了"一種對建設的批判性觀點,這使他思考起國家與社會的虛偽。 在看過電影現代啟示錄(Apocalypse Now, 1979)後,他開始對越戰產生興趣,並製作了一個亦與北愛爾蘭有關的巨大反戰作品。

1983年自利物浦技校畢業後,他被介紹至利物浦的商業畫廊,並搬到阿姆斯特丹居住。同時期,他開始建立起英國的社交人脈,並在1985年於貝爾法斯特的Art Council Gallery展出,隨後搬遷至英格蘭德文郡直至1992年的紐約MoMA PS1駐村計畫。對於紐約這個城市,駐村期間並不大喜歡。因為他覺得這裡的居民太有侵略性,這裡的社會太複雜,生活費高昂,多數的藝術家都在掙扎著尋找時間和金錢去繼續創作,彷彿單純的生活已經耗去了他們大量的時間與精力。他回到利物浦後卻發覺利物浦太小、太無趣、太多限制,尤其在你看了一眼紐約的大面向後,身為一個勇於冒險的人,他於1997年回到紐約居住,要在這裡定居下來並找到生存的辦法實在是相當困難。帶著一只皮箱跟錢包裏的幾塊錢,要從飛機上步下更是最困難。"他和妻子當時為了生活甚至去當建築工地裡的工人,正如他說在藝術世界中,幾乎沒有認識擁有所謂一般人說的”好工作”的藝術家。但是紐約就是個充滿機會的地方。

數年來,Dickson和他的朋友和夥伴,參與了數次小規模的展覽,地點大多是藝術家經營的工作室及替代空間。得到的回報很慢很小,但隨著大量的時間和精力付出,你的名聲的確會開始傳開。 如他所說,這樣的方式可能只能帶來少量的經濟報酬,但對作品的助益是很大的,"藉著大量的展出,感受展出的氛圍,將作品擺在公共空間去觀察他呈現的效果。

Frank Auerbach和Leon Kossoff,對Dickson留下最強烈的影響(包括非主流藝術、無形式藝術(Art Informel)、眼鏡蛇畫派、梵谷,和大部分的當代畫派像是Milton Resnick、Eugene LeRoy,這兩人都擁有相當厚重的抽象表現主義特徵),但這些影響再加上藝術家本身遊歷亞洲多年,因此使這樣西方的表現主義,融入亞洲元素與氣質。紐約知名的畫廊負責人David McKee,已認識他的作品超過二十年(Dickson與他相識於MoMA PS1),同時也是其作品的藏家之一,他認為『越南的風景對藝術家有很意義深遠的影響。黃色、綠色、紅色,及白色突然開始出現在他的作品中,他越是喜歡亞洲,他的作品越多抽象表現出現。現在他的作品幾乎是完全的抽象組織,這些顏色展示土地之美和人民的樂觀開朗。但有時,也會出現較嚴肅的部份,以一連串的暗土色綴著如血流的紅色筆觸,提醒著那些創痛。他的繪畫權威和熱情在在顯現在畫面中。』

Dickson早期的作品,如McKee所描述的『嘗試在黑暗抑鬱的表現中融合悲傷的圖像物件』(特別是他1985年Art Council的展覽)不只是直接的圖像,更多的是政治指涉,和拼貼、複合媒材的形式傾向,而最近的創作則是,緣於對人們和地方的記憶而生的抽象作品。對於他那與亞洲傳統印象,以及和越戰連結的作品,美國重要的藝術評論雜誌Art in America 主編Richard Vine認為其『在視覺上充滿了活力、非常吸引人,但(刻意的)使人感到不安。人們難以辨識出,藝術家是從何激發與種族、文化和民族主義的議題。這種曖昧感呈現給我的是,一種比普遍政治正確更重要的真實。』

Vine認為他後期的作品『在抽像表現主義的脈絡中,但抑鬱、騷亂,並創造觀者一種特別的情感移動』當問及他對於Dickson的作品做為形式主義者時,他表示"當然這些新作品也有一些形式主義的原素-相當厚重、執力於增加繪畫的表層-將這些作品帶至無形式藝術 。也許可以稱之為華麗的失落(Sumptuous Abjection),或壯麗的悲奮(Abject Sublime)

從某個方面來看,抽象和具象的分野並不適用於Dickson。他每週參加三小時的實物寫生課程,創作出的作品與他的油畫作品相比,幾乎可說是草圖。過去二十多年來,他製作了許多錄像作品和偶發藝術作品。也許另一個觀賞他作品的方式是,在一個歐洲人的眼中,會覺得他的抽象圖示因拼貼、複合媒材技法趨向複雜以及黑暗,並且越來越接近抽象表現主義的形式,但他一路下的轉變相對的非常直截了當, 這一點很像歐洲藝術家的風格。同時,在一個美國人的眼中,如Richard Vine,他看來也非常的像美國藝術家。所有人都認同的是,他的作品中有其小心翼翼、強大且銳利之處,在最近240 x 150 cm的作品中,他以巨大的呎幅創造了一個彷彿可以讓觀眾走入的畫面;與其說是一個通向黑暗的門,不如說那是前往未知世界的大釜。

How do you define success? How important is the matrix of nature and nurture that you were born with? Can willpower make you an artist? Would you be different- would you still be an artist- if you had stayed at home? Rodney Dickson lives in Brooklyn, New York. He can support himself by his art. Within the past ten years he has had sixteen solo painting exhibitions, including two in Tokyo and three in Saigon; fourteen “Happenings”, including ones in Mexico City, Rangoon, Hanoi, Beijing, New York, Belfast, Miami and Los Angeles; six Installations, all in New York; taken part in forty-six group exhibitions around the world; participated in two residencies, one in China, the other in Vietnam; organized eight workshops in Burma, Vietnam and New York; and had nine funding awards. All of this, literally, seems a world away from the boy who born in Bangor in 1956 and brought up, during the Troubles, in Newtownards, Northern Ireland.

He lived there until he was twenty-three. Both parents were school teachers. Neither had an interest in art and “the possibility of becoming an artist was just not on the horizon. People I knew became motor mechanics, carpenters, and factory workers and if they did well at school they could be a teacher” Liking to draw, he drew what he liked: motorcycles; and he still draws and paints them. Come 1979 his mother suggested he apply for art school as it seemed to be “the only thing I had at least some interest in.” She arranged interviews, and he was accepted for Liverpool Polytechnic. There he was establishment, the Liverpool art school was liberal, enlightened and progressive, the Head of Fine Art being Jeff Nuttall, author, painter, and Performance Artist. Dickson’s interests at the time included Karel Appel and Outsider Art, but his biggest influence was his painting teacher Mike Knowles, now a long-time friend, who described him in his early years as “inarticulate…frustrated by his inability to express himself” and “lacking any obvious facility, but to me he seemed to have exceptional determination, a fierce appetite for art and even then I was confident that he would go on to make interesting, perhaps exceptional work. He was a powerhouse in the Fine Art Department, disruptive, often drunk, contemptuous of timewasters, always pushing himself, self-critical but positive, a splendidly difficult and worthwhile student”

If the inarticulacy and the disruptive awkwardnesses of youth have disappeared, the frustration, the anger and the aggression, some of it perhaps imbibed from Northern Ireland, still fuel his art. He saw himself as an outsider coming from “the narrow-mindedness of a small, enclosed society exaggerated by the effects of the conflict”, a place that gave him “a critical view of the establishment and made me think of the hypocrisy of the state and society” Not surprisingly perhaps, after watching the film Apocalypse Now, he developed an interest in the Vietnam War, and produced a large body of anti-war art, some of which related back to Northern Ireland.

Having graduated from Liverpool in 1983, he was taken on by commercial gallery in Liverpool, although he moved to Amsterdam to live. He built up a network of contacts in the UK, showed at the Arts Council Gallery in Belfast in 1985, moved to Devon in England, and by 1992 was in New York on the PS1 program. The city he “did not entirely like at that time. The people I found to be too aggressive, the society was too complex, it was too expensive and most artists struggled to find time and money to concentrate on making art, as just living took up so much time and energy” He returned to Liverpool but found it small, boring and limiting “after getting a glimpse of the bigger picture in New York.” Being a risk-taker, he returned to live in New York, permanently, in 1997 “It was very difficult to get settled in and find some means of survival. Stepping off a plane with one suitcase in my hand and a few dollars in my wallet was most difficult” He and his wife did construction jobs- physical labor, and as for the art world, “career-wise I knew almost no one” But New York is a place of opportunity.

Dickson participated for years in scores of small-scale “local” shows with friends and acquaintances in studios and alternative spaces, often artist-run. “The feedback is slow and small but I guess that with a lot of time and energy the name does get out and it was a foundation to build on” As he puts it, there may be little financial reward but the work evolves “through showing a lot, getting a sense of something in the air, and putting up your works in the public realm and seeing how it looks.”

Dickson, through contacts he met in New York, has travelled widely in Asia. If the School of London, and in particular Frank Auerbach and Leon Kossoff, would seem to have left the strongest imprints on the artist (along with overlays of Outsider Art, Art Informel, the Cobra group, van Gogh, and almost contemporaries like Milton Resnick and Eugene LeRoy, both of whom have a thickly cauled abstract expressionist surface), the imprints have been fused progressively with Asian ones. The prominent New York gallery owner David McKee who has known the artist’s work for over twenty years (the artist met him when he came over on the PS1 fellowship) and who is a major collector or his work, considers that “the landscape of Vietnam had a profound effect. Suddenly colours such as yellows, greens, reds and whites appeared and the more he fell in love with Asia the more abstract the work appeared. Now the paintings are almost abstractly organic, revelations of colour revealing the beauty of the land and the optimism of the people. Yet occasionally there will be grim reminds of tragedy when a series appears of dark earth colours with tracks of blood red seeping through with masterful strokes. His painterly authority and passion is stamped on every picture”

If the early work, which McKee describes as “the attempt to fuse sad figurative subjects in dark, moody expressionist fields” (incidentally a fine description of his 1985 Arts Council show) was not only directly figurative, often politically orientated, and formally inclined towards collage and mixed-media, the later work is abstract, through based on memories of people and places. In relation to the former, the art critic and editor Richard Vine, speaking of the work related to Asian stereotypes and the Vietnam War, found them “visually energized, intriguing and (intentionally) disturbing. One could not easily tell where the artist stood in relation to the racial, cultural, and nationalistic issues he had stirred. That ambiguity spoke to me- as something more essentially truthful than the politically correct stance one so often and so predictably encounters”

The later work Vine sees as being “in the Abstract Expressionist vein, but brooding, troubled, and troubling to an exceptional degree” When asked if he considered the work to be formalist he remarked that “of course these new works also have a formal element-the incredibly thick, obsessively built-up paint surface- that links them to Art Informel and notions of the abject. Call it Sumptuous Abjection, maybe. Or the Abject Sublime”

In some senses, the division between abstract and figurative does not apply to the artist. He attends a three-hour life-drawing class every week, and also tends to produce what one might call working diagrams in relation to his paintings. For over twenty years he has produced videos and Happenings. Perhaps another way of looking at him is to say that to a European eye the journey seems to have been from a relatively straightforward albeit abstracted figuration based on collage and mixed-media techniques to a much denser, darker and more formalist version of abstract expressionism, which nevertheless looks very European. Whereas to an American eye like that of Richard Vine he seems very much to be an American painter. What everyone agrees upon is that there is a caginess, a muscularity, an edginess in the paintings, and in the most recent eight-foot by five works, a sense of larger-than-life scale, as if these were works to be walked into: not so much a door into the dark as a cauldron which might, or might not, lead into the unknown.