素人之畫祖母畫家吳李玉哥

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1981 / 9月

文‧王家鳳 圖‧曉陽


近年來,自由中國台灣陸續發掘了許多素人藝術家,他們純稚拙樸的作品,廣受大家的重視與喜愛。今年八十三歲的吳李玉哥老太太,便是其中倍受矚目的「祖母畫家」。六十歲以前,她是一位含辛茹苦的寡母,獨力以刺繡女紅培養兒子成為現代畫家;六十歲以後,他忽然放下針線,執起畫筆,誠摯地將心靈中一片快樂祥和的天地,鮮活明朗地呈現在畫布上。廿年來,她近千張的作品,在國內外應邀展出十數次,被譽為遠東最具才華的素人畫家。


素人藝術家的震撼

四年前,一陣「洪通熱」震驚了台北畫壇。緊接著,林淵的石刻、謝金壽的雕塑、祖母的畫……一次又一次地引起了社會大眾的關切與喜愛。專家們將這些未曾受過正統美術教育,只是在日常生活中尋找素材,繼而參與藝術活動的人,稱作「素人藝術家」。至於他們的作品究竟有多少藝術價值?應具有何種地位?藝術界有著多種不同的看法。然而真正使大家關心,並且感到欣慰的是:隨著社會的繁榮發展,與教育程度、生活水準的提高,使得阿公阿婆們不再滿足於下棋、澆花、抱孫子、看電視的晚年生活了,他們以長久累積下來的人生體驗,開拓了一種創作生涯。中國人常說:「人生七十才開始。」他們真正實踐了這句名諺。

這些「素人藝術家」的作品,沒有學院技巧或理論基礎,完全是內心感情的自然流露。他們不懂陰影、比例,只以孩童般純真的心境,訴說出對生命的真實感受。這些拙樸誠摯的創作,像一股潺潺清溪,灌慰了現代都市人疲憊的心靈。這也是「素人畫」普遍受到歡迎的原因之一。

而吳李玉哥的畫,不同於洪通的怪誕、林淵的粗獷,也沒有浣青婆婆的寫實。畫面上展現的,是一片童稚天真,卻又涵蘊了一股母性包容的氣質,像一個慈愛的母親,能夠撫慰人心中的悒鬱,重拾童稚的歡樂。在今天繁忙緊張的工商社會裡,吳李玉哥的這種雍容和平的美感,得到了最多的喜愛和共鳴。

一片快樂的桃花源

看吳李玉哥的畫,不知不覺地就走進了一個快樂的桃花源。在她所營建五彩繽紛的國度堙A一叢業盛開的花朵,一樹樹又大又紅的果子;微風吹動、蝴蝶飛舞,到處都是稚子的童顏笑語,有的伸手摘果子、有的坐在樹上大快朵頤;還有母雞帶著小雞,遇到別的雞時伸頸交談;一群可愛的野牛爭著跟孩子們握手,其中兩隻卻自顧著交頭接耳地聊天;而雲是五彩的,連樹上的果子也彷彿在微笑。

這是一個富足歡樂、慈愛溫柔的世界:有果樹就一定有孩子;有雞鴨,必不忘畫上滿地飼料;牲口、動物總是慈祥溫柔地看著依偎在身旁的寶寶;就連嚇人的老虎,也高高興興地走出籠子,與孩子們一塊兒嬉戲玩耍!

一臉壽斑、滿頭銀髮,眼睛眯成一條縫;嘴巴因為掉光了牙而凹了進去,八十三歲的吳李玉哥老太太,看起來跟每個人家堛漲戙炙壑@樣慈祥可親。她不大說話,整天笑瞇瞇地,髻邊斜插著一排清香的茉莉花。誰能想像這樣一位平凡的老婆婆,竟能畫出那樣一片快樂恬適的樂園!

嘗盡了人生的各種滋味

吳李玉哥的一生,並不是像畫中那麼富足安樂的。事實上,她嘗遍了人世間酸甜苦辣與生離死別的滋味。滿清末年,她出生在福建省仙遊縣一個名喚「楓亭」的小鎮上。年輕時候的吳李玉哥,和所有的中國舊式女性一樣,成天溫婉嫻靜地在閨房娷葵嵹竣k紅。由於家裡開設染織廠,有各式圖樣,加上本身心細如髮,針腳收得齊、顏色配得美,所以她那一手刺繡的功夫,在鄰里間是出了名的。

出閣之後,她又用刺繡來教育女兒,使六個女兒也個個傳襲了母親的針線絕活,和溫柔賢淑的好性情。沒想到在幼子五歲的那年,丈夫驟然去世,於是家道中落,改行務農。吳李玉哥也就毅然下田幹起粗活來。緊接著中共作亂,大陸淪陷了。離亂中,她只帶了幼子吳兆賢輾轉逃到台灣來。

在舉目無親的異鄉異地,吳李玉哥就靠著替人刺繡、做棉襖,一針一線地獨力教養兒子。

為兒子習畫,效孟母三遷

那時生活十分清苦,但是吳李玉哥不惜加工趕活多賺些錢,為讓喜歡畫畫的吳兆賢去拜師學畫。兒子學的是現代畫,她雖然看不懂,卻深信「拜了老師學的,一定錯不了!」有時鄰居好心勸她:「畫畫沒有出息啊!生活這麼苦,讓兆賢出去賺錢幫忙養家嘛!」也有的鄰居看她兒子只會整天畫怪里怪氣的畫,就向她炫耀:「我兒子一個月賺好幾千哪!」這些一點兒不能動搖吳李玉哥讓孩子學畫的決心,為了不影響兒子習畫的心情,還搬了好幾次家。她總是儘量省下家用,又忙著在燈下作針線,來替兒子買顏料、配畫框,從來也不以為苦。

如今已成現代畫家的吳兆賢感慨地說:「歷經了優渥安定和苦難挫折的生活,使母親培養了一套豁達的生活觀。她從來不羨慕別人生活的優越,也不在乎名利,只關心孩子的健康和性向。」

吳兆賢口中的母親,是一位謙和開明、待人寬厚慷慨的老太太。她最喜歡小孩,待兒子的朋友們也如同己出。他說:「也因為母親待人真誠,在我服兵役時,朋友都輪流幫我照料母親。還暗地分攤著給我寄零用錢,部隊裡長官看我常常收到匯款,還以為我是富家子弟呢!」

她突然想到要畫畫

後來,吳兆賢考上了當時的「青年服務團」半工半讀,工作是在劇團裡畫佈景,母子倆的生活因此改善不少。然而這工作需經常隨著劇團到處跑,有時候幾星期才能回家一次,只有留母親一人在家。

一天,吳兆賢出差後回家,看見母親專心地伏在案上——不是●花,而是拿著他留在家中的畫筆和顏料,在紙上畫畫!桌上放著幾張已經完成的畫,吳兆賢看了訝異不已。畫紙上拙雅的線條,鮮麗的色彩,所展現出的景緻親切而熟悉,這不就是童年時家鄉楓亭的景物嗎?望著低頭畫畫的母親,吳兆賢猛然醒悟到:自己終日奔波在外,留下母親一人是多麼寂寞啊!這時候,母親緩緩抬起頭來對他說:「我每天晚上都夢到我們回家鄉了。」

吳兆賢立刻出去買了一大堆顏料和畫紙,鼓勵母親繼續作畫。他知道,這是母親撫慰鄉愁,排遣寂寞的最好方法。母親並不是畫家,只是用線條和色彩,本能地渲洩出她的回憶與夢境。這一年,吳李玉哥已經六十歲了。

母親專心畫畫,子媳料理一切瑣事

吳李玉哥放下了針線,執起畫筆,一畫就是廿幾年,再也沒間斷過。自從娶進了孝順的媳婦、抱了孫子之後,更是笑逐顏開、安心滿足地成天坐在桌前畫畫了。

吳兆賢為母親釘製了一個特長的桌子,每天必定親自早起替母親鋪桌面、擺畫紙,並準備顏料。

每當老太太畫畫,兒子媳婦就坐在一旁捧場,不時稱讚幾句。三個孫子卻常在一旁挑毛病:「阿嬤,這邊忘了畫葉子」,「那邊角落上的小孩沒上顏色」,有兒孫的支持與關切,老婆婆的頭髮儘管一天白似一天,而畫畫的興致,卻一天高過一天。

有一個畫家兒子和當美術老師的媳婦,許多人不免問道:「你們有沒有代筆啊?」聽到這個問題,吳兆賢笑著說:「不行噢!我們若是碰了母親的畫,她會氣得跳起來!」接著,他正色說道:「我們也畫不出她的世界。她作畫的時候,貫注了一種猶如大地之母的慈愛,這是誰也替代不了的。」

他們不是代筆人,卻是經紀人。整理畫稿、裱畫裝框等工作,都是夫婦倆代母親做的。此外還要籌備畫展、印畫冊、寄送國外訂購的畫……。為了怕母親成天坐著畫畫,活動不夠,夫婦倆又教老太太做版畫、陶藝與泥塑。這麼一來,翻模、套色、燒窯的工作,又夠他們忙了!但是這對熱愛藝術、從事藝術工作的他們,亦從未視作負擔。

活到老,學到老

活到老學到老,吳李玉哥終生奉行不渝,她永遠有學習的心情,喜歡不斷求新求變。年輕的時候繡花,她就經常不滿足現成的花樣,喜歡按自己的構想變化。她本來不擅打毛衣,到了七十歲才跟媳婦學著織。開始畫畫以後,不識字的吳李玉哥也想要親自簽名落款,央兒子教他。過了幾天,媳婦整理畫稿,竟發現兩卷畫紙上都密密麻麻地簽滿了吳李玉哥四個字。她的畫,也不斷求突破,從早期的鉛筆畫,到白描、上彩、水墨、油畫,都不斷在嘗試與改進。紙張也由小畫紙漸漸加大,兩年前甚至畫了一幅長達卅台尺,寬三台尺的「人生之花園」,成為世界上最長的水墨長卷,還被行政院新聞局送到日本、德國巡迴展覽,倍受佳譽。使海外掀起一陣「祖母吳」的熱潮,包括瑞士、法國、日本、美國、荷蘭等地的收藏家,都紛紛訂購老太太的畫。

最近,她又漸漸走出了回憶,開始寫生。雖然年紀大,但老太太體力很好,健步如飛。媳婦教書的學校經常舉辦旅遊活動,吳李玉哥由兒子媳婦陪著玩遍了各地的風景區。畫布上開始出現了溪頭的大學池、碧潭的吊橋、日月潭的文武廟……。奇怪的是,這些寫生畫中盡是一片耀眼的新綠,充滿活潑蓬勃的生命力,跟過去畫中的濃綠,給人的感受全然不同。而始終不變的是,僅管是溪頭、日月潭或陽明山,畫面上永遠是處處歡顏笑語、花果纍纍的美滿世界。

欣喜能有知音

七月下旬,吳李玉哥在台北春之藝廊舉行為期廿天的個展。一共展出一百多件包括刺繡、水墨、油畫、陶藝、雕塑以及版畫的作品。吳李玉哥穿著媳婦為她縫製的絲綢新衣裳,坐在會場裡眯著眼睛,笑得好開心!

而最讓老太太高興的,是一群楓亭的旅台同鄉在報上看到畫展的消息,相約一塊兒來看她。吳李玉哥為此興奮得不得了。那天中午,一吃完飯就站在藝廊門口張望等待。不一會兒,好幾位老太太高高興興地牽著手進門來。一時間,老婆婆們高揚濃重的鄉音,在藝廊媗w喜地盪漾開來。

老婆婆們一邊看、一邊在畫上東指西指:這是觀音廟,那是楓亭才有的大紅棗子……。吳李玉哥在一旁多麼欣喜:她的畫能有這麼多的知音,尤其還有鄉親們來看,他們真正懂得她的畫,體會得到她內心深處的思鄉情濃。

〔圖片說明〕

P.70、P.71

左圖:八十三歲的吳李玉哥除了作畫以外,也經常捏油土做雕塑。圖中她正在專注地工作,一個母親慈愛地抱著孩子的作品即將完成。右圖:老太太作畫的時候,畫家兒子吳兆賢夫婦和孩子,都喜歡坐在一旁陪伴。

P.72、P.73

圖1:回憶堙A故鄉楓亭的棗樹又大又紅,孩子們伸手可及,是一片快樂無憂的天地。圖2:走出了回憶的世界,吳李玉哥眼中的碧潭,色彩鮮活,亦是處處童顏笑語。圖3:一樹盛開的梅花,是最近的一幅油畫作品。圖4:不知道為什麼,吳李玉哥的畫,只有在荷花的題材塈鉹ㄗ鴗p孩兒。老太太說:家鄉楓亭的鷺鷥,加上台北植物園堛熔花,你看好不好?

P.74、P.75

圖1:楓亭的孩子最愛騎竹馬。三個人合騎一根竹竿,最前面的孩子用衣服扭成一個馬頭。吳李玉哥把濃濃的鄉愁,都捏進了作品堙C圖2:這一幅題名「夏涼」的版畫,已經由作家韓韓夫婦訂購了。圖3:因為眼力大不如前,吳李玉哥現在已經很少刺繡。但你看這幅五年前的作品,光是樹幹就用了十幾種顏色的絲線呢!

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近期文章

EN

Grandmother Artist

Wang Jiafong


In recent years, many self-educated artists have achieved prominence in the Republic of China. Their spontaneous and primitive style has attracted attention and praise from all sectors of the arts community.

Perhaps the most remarkable example of these self-made artists is Wu Lee Yu-ke, an 83-year-old grandmother who only took up painting at the age of 60. Previously Wu earned her living through needlework. Her interest in painting came when she tried to persuade her son to take up the career. During the past 20 years, Wu has completed 1,000 works, and has been invited to hold painting exhibitions both within Taiwan and abroad, winning for herself a reputation as the most talented self-educated artist in the Far East.

According to an old Chinese saying, life begins at 70. Higher living standards have enabled old people to turn away from such non-productive activities as playing chess, gardening, visiting friends or watching television. Instead they use the experience they have gained in life to create a new world for themselves.

The lack of academic training gives the works of these artists an honesty and simplicity which refreshes the soul of the viewer. Grandma Wu's paintings show her maternal instincts. In her colorful world, flowers are always blooming and fruits are always sweet. Children pick the fruit freely, and sit on tree trunks to eat their fill. Hens with their broods seem to exchange greetings, and herds of buffalo advance in a friendly fashion. Tigers leave their cages to play safely with the children. All the subjects of her painting are colorful-trees, fruit, crops, chickens, ducks, cattle, goats, horses and their young, and even the clouds.

With her silver hair and wrinkled brown skin, Wu is the epitome of everybody's grandmother. She says little, but is constantly smiling, and likes to wear a bouquet of jasmine in her hair. Her routine life contrasts sharply with the excitement of her artistic world.

Born at the end of the Manchu rule in a small town in Fukien province which translates into English as "Maple Arbor," Wu is a typical old-fashioned Chinese woman who was confined to her home and did needlework as a girl. Her expertise and the fact that her family owned a spinning and dyeing mill led to her being something of a celebrity in her neighborhood.

Grandma Wu later passed on her needlework skills to her six daughters. Her husband died when her youngest son was only five years old, and to make both ends meet, she had to do menial work in the fields. After the Chinese mainland fell to the Communists, she moved to Taiwan, but unfortunately could only bring her youngest son with her.

Although her needlework and cotton jacket making provided only the most meager living, she continued to encourage her son to learn modern painting. Even when her neighbors scoffed, and pointed to the money their sons were making, Wu stuck to her ideals, believing that art could not be regarded as a waste of money. Her son, Wu Chao-hsien, recalls: "She was only concerned that I grow up in a healthy and happy environment and live up to my ideals and interests."

When he found a job painting stage sets for a theatrical group, the family fortunes took a change for the better. One day when he returned home, he found his mother painting with the brushes and paints he had left behind. As he scrutinized the bold lines and lush colors, images of his hometown sprung to his mind. He began to realize how homesick his mother was, and went out to buy more paints and paper for her to work with.

The 20 years since Wu gave up her needlework to take up the brush seem to have gone by very quickly. Every morning Wu Chao-hsien makes sure that his mother's painting materials are prepared. He often joins his wife and three children to sit by her side and share her pleasure as she paints. The son and daughter-in-law have become in effect Grandma Wu's managers by helping her with assorting and mounting, organizing exhibitions, printing albums and delivering paintings to customers. They have also encourag ed her to take up woodcuts, pottery and clay modeling.

As could be expected, Grandma Wu is a great believer in the concept of learning in old age. At the age of 70, for instance, she learned the art of knitting from her daughter-in law. As she had no formal education, she had to learn from her son how to write her name so she could sign her pictures. To further her career as an artist she has tried her hand at all sorts of mediums including pencil, watercolor, ink and oil. Her works have also grown in size. Two years ago, she completed a painting 30 feet long by three feet high which she entitled "Garden of Life." This panoramic ink and splash work won wide acclaim when it was exhibited in Japan and West Germany. Today collectors of Grandma Wu's works can be found in several foreign countries, including Japan, the U.S., France, Switzerland and the Nether-lands.

Recently, she has left her studio to paint outdoors. As she still enjoys good health, she has traveled to Chitou, Sun Moon Lake and Yangmingshan to seek inspiration. At the end of July, she held a 20-day exhibition of her paintings at the Spring Gallery in Taipei. Visitors became immersed in the bright and colorful world created in more than 100 works of art in embroidery, inks, oils, pottery and woodcuts.

Though she is delighted by visits from her friends in literary and arts circles, she is especially happy to receive from time to time a group of old people who came with her from her home town in 1949. In their strongly accented speech, the old ladies always express admiration for the way in which Grandma Wu's works evoke the spirit of their old home. One of them admitted: "I am thinking of persuading my daughter to buy me paints and canvas so I can follow Grandma Wu's example. It's really fascinating."

[Picture Caption]

Left: As well as painting, 83-year-old Grandma Wu has also taken up clay modeling for a change of pace. Picture shows a piece based on a mother gently holding her baby. Right: Wu Chao-hsien often joins his wife and three children to sit by Grandma Wu's side and share her pleasure as she paints.

1. In Grandma Wu's colorful world, flowers are always blooming and fruits are always sweet. Children pick the fruit freely, and sit on tree trunks to eat their fill. 2. Recently, she has left her studio to paint outdoors. In this picture, Green Lake in the suburbs of Taipei is full of bright colors and children's laughter. 3. A tree full of blossoming plum flowers is the motif for this modern-style oil painting. 4. Egrets break up the vista of lotus blossoms.

1. One of the favorite games for children at "Maple Arbor" is to ride the bamboo horse. The child in front wraps cloth around the bamboo in make-believe that it is a horse'shead. 2. This woodcut entitled "Summer Cool" has been bought by writer Han Han and her husband. 3. Though failing eyesight prevents Grandma Wu from doing embroidery any more, her excellent needlework can be seen from this piece done five years ago.

 

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