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Painting Makes the Soul Visible

Painting Makes the Soul Visible (excerpt)
Essay on Bai Xuejuan’s Art
-By Luo Fei

On a number of palm sized notebooks, a great many variety of colorful patterns filled the pages. There appear to be some traces of natural growth. One of the covers reads: I’m afraid of waking up, for the dream would be gone. The one who didn’t want to wake up from her dream is Bai Xuejuan, a painter from Yunnan and is now living in Gejiu, a small city in southern China only about 200 kilometers away from Vietnam. She’s a high school teacher there. However, she’s been painting about Nordic islands in recent years: places where human beings are few, forests deep, and iced rivers flowing.

This is due to the residence program that Bai joined in the Nordic Watercolor Museum between February and April 2011 in Sweden. For this three months program on Tjörn, she witnessed how the ice melted in Scandinavia, and the rigid winter changed to the warm early spring. She spent these whole three months in her cabin next to the Pacific. Two diaries were jotted down and countless watercolors painted. And only a few new friends visited her occasionally. The minimalism manifested naturally around her in Northern Europe began to fascinate her. Even back to the mountains of Yunnan, those images related to the Tjörn kept coming back to appear on her paintings. I can feel the characteristic transparency unique to the Nordic in both her watercolors and oil paintings, light and thin, loose and soft. The free-flowing in her paintings is reminiscent of Edvard Munch. Just that one doesn’t sense the desperate darkness, but the bright and poetic flowing.

For Bai Xuejuan, cultural collision and blending are external and concrete, and she does not study art as a cultural matter. When it comes to art, by following the experience deep inside of her heart, she’s been continuously recording like diaries the trajectory of her inner feedback on life, surroundings and her own feelings. She captured in her paintings those moments like cruising the sea, walking in the night or strolling aimlessly. Those are the times that the burden of reality was kept at a distance, and the ones for thoughts and drifting away. To drift is both for the soul to breathe and to escape.

Rather than delving into the texture of a particular piece of leaves or a stone on the ground, Bai does not regard the world as a stable substance, but a series of flowing, breathable and free forms. Going up and down, they are plain and simple, yet grow like a poetry. They are as free as if one falls into a trance. At this very moment, painting makes the soul visible.

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边想边写

绘画让心灵可见——有感于白雪娟的绘画

绘画让心灵可见——有感于白雪娟的绘画

文/罗 菲

在数本巴掌大的笔记簿上,每页都画满了许多色彩绚丽的图形,它们看上去像是自然生长的某种痕迹。其中一本的封皮上写着:害怕醒来,醒来就不会做梦了。这位害怕从梦中醒来的人是云南女画家白雪娟,住在个旧,一座离越南仅200公里的中国南方小城,她在那里一所中学教书。可她最近几年的绘画一直围绕着北欧海岛的景象:廖无人烟,黑森林,流淌的冰河。

这缘于白雪娟2011年2月至4月期间在瑞典北欧水彩博物馆参与的驻地计划,在雪恩岛三个月的驻留期间,她经历北欧大地冰雪融化,从寒冬到初春的转变。整整三个月她几乎都在大西洋海边的小屋中度过,她写了两本日记,画了无数张水彩画,偶尔几次见见新朋友。她开始对北欧环境中天然的极简形式着迷。哪怕回到云南的大山里,雪恩岛的画面感仍然不断浮现在白雪娟的绘画里。我能感受到她画面里有来自北欧特有的透明感,无论是水彩还是油画,都画得很轻薄、松动。画面中的流动形态让人想起蒙克,只是白雪娟的画并没有令人绝望的幽暗意识,而是一种敞亮的流动的诗意。

英国艺术史学家迈克尔·苏立文先生把东西方文化交会称作自文艺复兴以来最重大的事件之一,16世纪至20世纪期间,中国、日本等亚洲文化与西方文化产生相互影响,不同的文化也对艺术家个人创作在形式语言、手段媒介、美学理念等方面形成影响。在今天,以驻地项目、国际交流协作项目为代表的跨文化交流中,艺术家的语言、表达方式和思考议题也呈现出更加全球化、更加密集的交融。只是对白雪娟而言,文化上的碰撞与交融是外在而具体的,她并没有把艺术当做文化研究一样对待。在艺术上,她跟随着自己的内心体验,像写日记一样持续记录心灵对生活、环境和自身感受产生的反馈轨迹。她的画面场景往往来自巡海、夜游或者漫步的时刻,那些与现实负担保持距离的时刻,那些默想的时刻,游离的时刻。游离,是心灵的一种呼吸方式,也是一种逃离方式。
白雪娟并不深入刻画具体的一片树叶或地面某块石头的肌理,她并不把世界看作稳定的物质,而是一系列流动的可呼吸的自在形态,它们看上去起起伏伏,朴素平常,却生长着诗意,一种心灵出游时的自在状态。

在那些“害怕醒来就不能做梦”的笔记簿里,显示出白雪娟在记录心灵呼吸与轨迹上更加无意识、更加自由的一面,而它们往往是白雪娟坐在办公室打发时间的时候产生的。与其说那些图形以纯粹色块、线条和运动来描绘自然生长的内心活力,不如说,心灵借着手由内而外地生长,在纸上、在焦虑现实的夹缝中,留下了自身呼吸的痕迹。这个时刻,绘画让心灵可见。

2017年4月11日夜于奥斯陆

拜访个旧白雪娟随笔

去蒙自的火车上列车员兜售的都是各类“小法宝”,能止牙龈出血还掰不断的牙刷,能验钞能剃猪毛能当电筒用的剃须机,能去皱纹抗衰老的糖果……反正多功能又廉价还能让人幸福满满,就对了。乘客们拆穿把戏、讨价还价,并为此买单。这又有什么关系,它至少让无聊的旅途增加了热烈的气氛,又让乘客觉得自己还挺聪明。在中国生活,每时每刻都充满了这类驳杂而多功能的期待,这种期待很现实,也很滑稽,只要它廉价,它“一拖三”就可以了。这种对生活的期待在越底层的地方越热烈也越具体,或许是因为人们希望通过某种小额付出,可以一劳永逸地解决一系列问题。而居住在那列火车所达终点站的画家白雪娟,她的画并没有丝毫表现出那种对生活抱有驳杂的、多功能的、廉价的“一拖三”的期待,而是从中离开(或浸入),真实面对并呈现自身内在的心灵状态。她的画和她这个人的单纯与孤寂,和个旧城的热闹与驳杂之间的对比,成为那次旅行难以忘却的印象。这也让人确信,一个单纯的事物要在复杂滑稽的现实中生长,若不是爱和相信,岂不是早就消散了吗。

2017-5-16

醒着做梦——白雪娟个展
WAKE UP DREAMING — Bai Xuejuan
策展人Curator: 王蓓Wang Bei
艺术总监 Art Director: 罗菲 Luo Fei
学术主持Academic Host :孙国娟 Sun Guojuan
开幕时间Opening:2017-5-27 20:00
展览时间 Duration : 2017-5-27 —2017-6-17
地址Address:
昆明市西山区西坝路101号,TCG诺地卡文化中心
TCG Nordica, Xiba Road 101#, Kunming