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“乱世绝响”:曼哈顿的中国六朝艺术展

更新时间:2016-11-23 11:28:56 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Chinese History, Writ in Stunning Stone
“乱世绝响”:曼哈顿的中国六朝艺术展

What a shock to wake up one morning and find armed men, who spoke no language you knew and looked like no people you’d ever seen, roaming the streets of your city. And more shocking still to learn that your protectors — your leaders, your army — had fled in the night. This scene repeated itself many times in China beginning in the third century A.D., when the Han dynasty collapsed and non-Chinese nomads swept down from the north and breached the Great Wall.

一天早上醒来,你发现手持武器的人在你所住城市的街头走来走去,说着你从未听过的语言,长相跟你之前见过的人都不一样,那是多么可怕的事情。更可怕的是,你了解到保护者——你的领袖和军队——已经连夜逃跑了。从公元3世纪起,这一幕多次在中国上演,当时汉朝崩溃,非华夏的游牧民族从北方长驱直入,攻破长城。

They brought fear with them, but other things, too: knowledge, beliefs, and cultural curiosity, which turned into respect, or something like it. That respect worked two ways. Gradually, the invaders came to look, and sound, and be Chinese. And the Chinese began to have an expanded, sharper sense of themselves.

他们带来了恐惧,但也带来了其他东西:知识、信仰和文化好奇心,这些转化为尊重或某种类似的东西。这种尊重起到了两个作用。慢慢地,入侵者的长相、语言及其他方面与华夏民族无异。而华夏民族开始对自己有了一种更广泛、深刻的认识。

Exchange is the dynamic that animates “Art in a Time of Chaos: Masterworks From Six Dynasties China, 3rd-6th Centuries,” the inaugural exhibition at China Institute Gallery’s new home in Lower Manhattan, on Washington Street. The show is a jewel, and let me just say up front, I don’t know how China Institute Gallery, now 50 years old, does what it does.

华美协进社中国美术馆(China Institute Gallery)迁至曼哈顿下城华盛顿街后的首展“乱世绝响:六朝艺术,三至六世纪”(Art in a Time of Chaos: Masterworks From Six Dynasties China, 3rd-6th Centuries)背后的动力正是这种交流。这场展览是一块瑰宝,请允许我先说一句:我不知道已有50年历史的华美协进社中国美术馆是如何做到这一点的。

Season after season, it brings extraordinary treasures to New York, many directly from China, loans that even big-budget museums might have trouble nailing. With this material it creates exhibitions that advance scholarship (some of the catalogs are instant classics) but also give unalloyed pleasure, partly because the scale is always right. The galleries in the institute’s old Manhattan premises on East 65th Street were two tiny rooms. The new ones are larger, but still ideal. You spend your time and energy on looking, not on walking.

一季又一季,它给纽约带来非凡的珍宝,很多直接来自中国,有些甚至是连那些预算很高的博物馆可能都不易借到的。凭借这些资料,它做了不少既推动学术进步(有些展览目录立刻成为经典)又带来纯粹愉悦的展览,一个原因是它的规模总是恰到好处。该美术馆在曼哈顿东65街的旧址只有两个小展厅。新馆的展厅面积更大,但依然很理想。你可以把时间和精力用于观赏,而非奔波。

Yet within a compact space, the show covers a vast swath of history. After Han rule ended, political discord reigned. China was effectively split in half, with the north ruled by foreigners, the south by Chinese. Each half further splintered into successions of rival kingdoms fighting among themselves. The centerlessness lasted for nearly four centuries.

虽然空间紧凑,但该展览涵盖了一段很长的历史。汉朝统治结束后,出现了政治纷争。中国实际上分裂成两个部分,北部由外族人统治,南部由华夏民族统治。每个部分进一步交替分裂成战乱不断的敌对王国。这种没有中央集权的状态持续了近四个世纪。

This is the barest-bones version of a very tangled history, one to which even a large show couldn’t do full justice. This one doesn’t try. Instead, it views the period known as the Six Dynasties — or, in China, as the Northern and Southern Dynasties — through some of its distinctive cultural achievements, which included refinements in celadon porcelain, the growth of Buddhism, and advances in calligraphy and painting. And it draws its illustrative material from three of China’s major regional art institutions: the Shanxi Museum in the north, and the Nanjing Museum and Nanjing Municipal Museum in the south.

以上只是这段非常复杂的历史的基本框架,哪怕一场大型展览也无法展示它的全貌。该展览不做这方面的尝试,而是通过它的一些独特文化成就来审视这段被称为六朝或南北朝的历史,包括青瓷技术的改进、佛教的发展,以及书法和绘画的进步。它从中国三家重要的地方艺术机构借来具有阐释价值的资料:北方的山西博物院,以及南方的南京博物院和南京市博物馆。

With its elusively colored glazes — jade-green, kingfisher-blue, smoky-sunset-yellow — celadon was thought to have near-magical properties. Production of it exploded during the Six Dynasties, particularly in the south, answering the need for everyday tableware, collectibles, luxury items and grave goods.

青瓷色泽缥缈——翠绿、翠蓝和烟灰日落黄——被认为具有近乎神奇的特性。青瓷的产量在南北朝时期暴涨,尤其是在南方,用于满足日常餐具、收藏品、奢侈品和明器的需要。

A little asparagus-colored water container in the shape of a toad would have been equally suited to home or tomb. A splendid wine jar embossed all over with lotus petals must have been the prized possession of some Buddhist-minded owner. The Buddha himself appears on a chunky pot called a “soul urn.” Such vessels were made to accompany the dead in the afterlife, and this one is capped by a sculptural tableau. The Buddha sits in a mini-pavilion, amid flocks of sprites and birds, looking out with a smile as if to say: “No worries. Come join the fun.”

一个芦笋色、蟾蜍状盛水小容器既适合家用,也适合用作明器。一个周身装饰着莲花瓣图案的酒罐可能是某位信佛者珍贵的物品。佛本身出现在一种名为“翁棺”的厚实陶罐上。这种器皿用来陪伴往生后的死者,这一件的顶部是一个雕塑造型。佛坐在一个小亭子里,四周围绕着仙子和鸟,佛面带微笑望着外面,似乎在说:“不要担心。一起来享乐。”

Buddhism probably arrived from India during the Han dynasty, but was embraced with panicked intensity in the disordered and disorienting era that followed. Brought overland by Indian monks traveling the Silk Road, it entered China from the north, where it took monumental visual form in the giant cave sculptures of Shanxi province. Unsurprisingly, some of the show’s most beautiful images come from the museum there: the sandstone figure of a bodhisattva wrapped in a breeze-ruffled cloak, and the carved foot-high head of a gender-fluid spiritual being lost in a dream of peace.

佛教很可能是汉代从印度传入中国的,但在之后的混乱时代里,人们因为恐慌而热情接纳了它。印度僧人沿丝绸之路从北方将佛教传入中国,以巨大的石窟雕塑的恢宏视觉形式出现在山西。毫不意外,该展览最美丽的一些形象来自山西博物院:一尊砂岩雕像描绘的是一位菩萨,她的披风被微风吹出皱褶;一尊一英尺高的头像描绘的是一位迷失在平静梦中的性别模糊的神灵。

Buddhist art had a troubled run in China. It never entirely escaped suspicion as an alien import. Calligraphy, by contrast, was embraced as Chinese to the core, and found its most famous exemplar, Wang Xizhi (A.D. 303-361), in the Six Dynasties period. In the fourth century, he and his family were among the many upper-class northerners who relocated south to Nanjing. There he devoted himself to Buddhist and Daoist studies, which in his case entailed some serious partying. And one party made him immortal.

佛教艺术在中国有过曲折的经历。作为一个外来事物,它从未完全摆脱质疑。相比之下,书法在本质上被认为是中国艺术,南北朝时期出现了其最著名的代表人物王羲之(303年至361年)。他的家族是4世纪南迁到南京的很多北方上层家族之一。在那里,他潜心研究佛教和道教,还参加了一些严肃的聚会。其中一个聚会令他永垂不朽。

One bright day in 353, he and 41 of his scholarly friends gathered at a picnic spot, the Orchid Pavilion, to drink wine and compose poetry. The plan was to collect the poems in an album, and at some point in the hard-drinking day, Wang Xizhi decided to provide a preface for it. He called for ink and a brush and, in fluent script, wrote an account of the feelings the gathering inspired in him.

公元353年一个晴朗的日子里,王羲之和41名学者朋友在一个名叫“兰亭”的野餐地点聚会,饮酒作诗。他们打算把那些诗编成诗集。王羲之那天喝了很多酒,在某个时刻,他突然决定给这本诗集写个序。他要来笔墨纸砚,洋洋洒洒写了一篇文章,讲述那次聚会带给他的感受。

The result was a kind of lyric lamentation on the transient beauties of emotion, friendship and nature, and a call to turn attention toward those things, and away from the demands of professional ambition and civic life. The message sounded a note of political resistance in a Chinese culture shaped by Confucian ethics. Wang Xizhi’s validation of individualism and vulnerability, implied by the polygraphic movement of the brush in his hand, had deep resonance in an insecure time.

文章哀叹感情、友谊和大自然易逝的美丽,呼吁大家关注那些事物,不要理会职场野心和世俗生活的要求。在被儒家道德塑造的中国文化中,那听起来像是对政治的抗拒。在那个不安稳的时代,王羲之对个人主义和脆弱的肯定——这流露在他挥舞的笔尖下——引起了深刻共鸣。

The resonance lasted. “Preface to the Poems Composed at the Orchid Pavilion” became the most widely emulated work of calligraphy in Chinese history, the model for a new standard of expressive writing. Although Wang Xizhi’s original manuscript was lost long ago, the touch of his brush was preserved and replicated countless times in copies traced on silk or paper, or carved into stone tablets. Any link to his spirit, at whatever degree of separation, is valued, and the show has one in a different calligraphic text: the carved stone epitaph of the great calligrapher’s young cousin Wang Xingzhi (A.D. 310-340), unearthed in 1965 in the family burial ground near Nanjing.

这种共鸣一直延续下来。《兰亭序》成为中国历史上被模仿最多的书法作品,也成为抒情散文的一种新标准的典范。虽然王羲之的原稿早已遗失,但他的笔迹得到保存,并被无数次复制成丝质或纸质版本,或刻到石碑上。与他的精神的任何联系都得到珍视——不管存在多大程度的偏离。这次展览展出了另一种书法文本:这位伟大书法家的堂弟王兴之(310年至340年)的墓志铭,它是1965年从南京附近的家族墓地中出土的。

The expressive connection between calligraphy and painting was always close, though Six Dynasties painting, like writing, survives mostly in secondhand form. And the exhibition — organized by Willow Weilan Hai of the China Institute; Annette L. Juliano, an art historian at Rutgers University; Gong Liang, director of the Nanjing Museum; Bai Ning, former director of the Nanjing Municipal Museum; and Shi Jinming, director of the Shanxi Museum — concludes with a few examples.

书法与绘画在艺术表达上的关系总是很近,虽然南北朝时期的绘画和书法一样,大部分以二手形式留存下来。这次展览包含其中几个例子。该展览由华美协进社中国美术馆的海蔚蓝、罗格斯大学(Rutgers University)的艺术史学家朱安耐(Annette L. Juliano)、南京博物院院长龚良、南京市博物馆前馆长白宁,以及山西博物院院长石金鸣共同策划。

One is a dim image of cosmological creatures sketched on a scrap of tomb fresco. Another is a figurative tableau originally created in raised linear relief on a set of clay bricks, and preserved now as a pair of painting-size ink rubbings. Titled “Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove,” the overall image recalls the Orchid Pavilion affair, but has fewer participants, with each — whether writer, musician, or celebrity lush — carefully personalized.

其中一件作品是画在一小块墓室壁画上的宇宙生物的模糊图形。还有一件作品是最初刻在一套灰砖上的生动的线条浮雕,现在则是以一对绘画大小的拓片进行保存。作品标题是《竹林七贤》,整个画面让人想起了兰亭聚会,不过它的参与者更少,每个人物的特征都得到精心描绘——不管是作家、音乐家还是著名酒鬼。

Like Wang Xizhi’s friends, they were historical figures and Daoist rebels, though, according to legend, more far out, more willing to say no to power and put themselves in danger. The most outrageous of the seven, the drunkard Liu Ling, hired a man to follow him everywhere with a shovel and gave him standing instructions: If I suddenly drop dead, bury me on the spot.

和王羲之的朋友们一样,他们都是历史上的著名人物和道教反叛者,不过,根据传说,他们更为叛逆,更敢于对权势说不,将自己置于危险境地。七人中最令人震惊的是酒鬼刘伶,他雇了一个人拿着铁锹跟着他,还下了一道长期有效的指示:如果我突然倒地而亡,就将我就地掩埋。

I like to imagine this sage as the one who was shocked by nothing; as the one who treated foreigners as, by definition, friends; and the one who regarded great walls as delusional, built to be breached, and would say so out loud to whoever. I bet he did.

我把这位贤人想像成一个无所畏惧的人;一个视外来者为朋友的人;一个视长城为妄想之物、修起来就是为了让人攻破的人;一个会对所有人大声宣布以上理念的人。我打赌他肯定这样做过。

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