我跟李昆霖是高中的同學。因為我們讀的是美術實驗班,那這個美術實驗班很特別的就是,是以升大學美術系為主。會來這個班的同學大部分都是在讀...要讀長榮中學美工科的人,就把成 績比較好的,把他編成是一個美術實驗班。第一眼的印象應該是他算我們班算比較高的同學。然 後理平頭嘛,那個臉是鵝蛋臉,然後沉默寡言。

        那李昆霖最特別的地方,就是因為他畫畫德非常好,水彩素描都非常的強。所以一到班級裡面馬上就很亮眼,因為像要畫那麼好的非常少見。老師也就會開始鼓勵他去比賽,跟大人角逐那 個全國性的比賽,就是說不分年紀的。那我認為李昆霖很不簡單,因為他去參加全國美展第一次 就入圍了。能夠入選,那個是很不簡單的一件事情齁。那我呢,什麼都不會啊,所以當時我就專 攻在水墨畫跟書法。可是一年之後,我的書法跟水墨畫也常常得獎,然後他的作品也常常得獎。 我們兩個沒有競爭的壓力,不像我們同學之間為了比賽對不對。如果他也參加書法比賽,我也參 加書法比賽,那我們就會在那個比賽過程當中,擔心他會第一名,我會第二名。

 

        所以我們這些不知不覺,就是我們這一群會比較想要參加比賽的人,就會常常聚集在一起。那因為當時的老師是鼓勵我們一定要到外面去寫生,透過去觀察大自然,然後來豐富你創作的靈 感。所以我跟李昆霖還有一些好朋友,我們週末有空就是大家一起去寫生。但是這個寫生,因為 不會純粹寫生嘛,所以我們會到處去玩。就是說比如說去月世界,去探險去爬,那很危險齁,因 為也有可能會,不小心就會從上面跌下來。那我現在還有一些當時我們去玩的那些照片。然後同 時呢,有展覽我們就會一起,相邀去看展覽。

         就這樣不知不覺,我們大家的感情就比較好。我們這四五個好朋友,大家都話很多,一樣的 話很多就很難了。因為我們都話很多,他就聽。叫他偶爾表達意見,他也很難開金口耶,就講個 幾句話就沒啦,然後接下去就我們自己一直講,反正他是聽的份。我很容易跟人家吵架,他不太 容易跟人家吵架跟動怒,所以這是,他是很特別的一個人。等於是說他外在非常收斂,內在的世 界是非常的不一樣的。等於說,他都把所有的感情跟所有的情緒,都隱藏在他的作品裡面,透過 這個作品呈現出來。

        印象比較深刻應該是畢業旅行吧,大家去哪裡玩我忘了,那個好像是谷關又好像不是。然後大家住在一起,晚上在那邊打打鬧鬧,然後呢他也玩起來了,跟我這樣子全身,我們兩個就這樣 扭在一起,我還覺得滿有趣,而且給人家拍到很多照片。這個應該是,在跟他互動當中都是很安 靜的,然後那個很安靜的過程當中,和他那次的玩樂,就還蠻蠻活潑滿狂野的。所以應該是,我 個人覺得啦,他其實是在外表之下的內心,應該是充滿了熱情。

         畢業的時候,他送給我一件他還蠻喜歡的作品,那我也回贈給他作品,我們都用最好的作品送,我認為他是用最好的作品送給我,那個時間點。那我也是同樣的回給他,就是好朋友。 最讓我印象深刻的,就是他的離開,因為這是我沒有去預期到的。那他...當然他的離開,對我們 同學來講都很震撼。因為我對他,我們算是在學生時代非常好的朋友,也不過才幾位。而他的離 開很戲劇性,所以這是我,他離開那段時間,我也有很長很長一段時間,也很難去想像。然後, 後來我去再看了他的一些作品,因為他的太太有給我一些他的畫冊。然後呢,我在翻閱的過程當 中,我就很驚訝,這樣才短短的二十年吧?他是三十歲,對,大概是二十多年,他的創作這麼豐 富,然後參加這麼多展覽。等說他是,應該是我們同學之間最有藝術成就的。

        李昆霖在學生時代,畫的作品非常非常的寫實,而且非常好看。我都覺得,天哪那怎麼,根 本就是天才。我都覺得,你怎麼可以畫得那麼寫實?他也送我一件作品,超寫實。可是他從離開 學校之後的創作風格大變,完全跳脫寫實去創作一些內在的東西,都跟生命有關、跟生死有關。 我才覺得說這就是他,就是他內心最真實藝術的呈現。那這是我覺得,作為一個藝術家,最後的 作品將能夠傳達他內在的一些想法跟思想,這才是最好的藝術作品,我認為李昆霖他有做到。

Lee Kuen-Lin and I are high school classmates. We studied in an art experiment class. It’s  a special part to prepare for the art department at University. Most of the students in this class wanted to study art engineering in Chang Jung Senior High School. The school puts the students with better grades together into this art experiment class. My first impression of him is that he was quite tall in our class with really short hair. The shape of his face is like a goose egg and he is quite silent, talks seldom.

 

Lee Kuen-Lin’s most special part is that he can paint really really well. Watercolor and sketch are both perfect. So as soon as the class started he became quite bright immediatel because it is hard to paint so well. Our teacher started encouraging him to join competitions. He participated in national competitions with adult. There is no limit of age. I think Lee Kuen-Lin is amazing because he shortlisted the National Art Contest the first time of participation. It’s hard to be chosen. And I? I can do nothing. So I was specializing in ink painting and calligraphy. And after one year my calligraphy and ink paintings were often awarded. His works were also often awarded. We have no pressure to compete unlike our classmates. If he participated in the calligraphy competition I also attended. Then we would worry that he would be the first and I would be the second.

 

So unknowingly the people who wanted to participate in competitions often get together because our teacher encouraged us to go out and sketch from nature. Through observing nature you enrich your creative inspiration. So when we had time on weekends Lee Kuen-Lin, some good friends and I did sketches together. But at this sketching.. there would not be purely sketched. We went everywhere. Traveling and playing. That is to say... For example, we went to the world of the moon in Tainan...Going to explore, climbing... It was really dangerous because it may also be, if we were careless, that we would fall down. I still have some photos of our little trip. If there were any exhibitions, we would invite each other to go together.

 

Just unknowingly our relationship became better. We, four or five good friends, everyone spoke a lot so it was harder for him to speak a lot. Because we spoke a lot he just listened... Sometimes, we asked him to express his opinions. He still seldom opened his gold mouth. He just said a few words and then no more. Then we would continue the conversation by ourselves. Anyway, he just listened. I easily quarrel with others. And he did not quarrel with others quickly or got angry. So I think he is a very special person. It is equal to say that he is very convergent outside and his inner world is quite different equally, to say... he hides all his feelings and emotions and puts them into his works.

 

What impressed me more is our graduation trip. I forget where we went to. It seems to be Gu-Guan, but I am not sure. Everyone lived together playing there in the evening. Then he also played with me like this... Two of us were twisted together. It was really funny. We were taking photos of others. This should be... usually, our interaction was really quiet. Then in the really quiet process he was so so lively at that time. So it should be... I personally feel...  in his inner heart, he was actually... full of passion.

 

When we graduated, he gave me a painting that he liked quite a lot. Then I also gave him a piece back. We gave each other our best work. I think he gave his best work to me at that time. And I gave him also my best work back... as a good friend. What impressed me the most is his departure? I did not expect it this way. His departure was really shocking to us, for many of his classmates. Because we were very good friends in the student days and only a few people...His departure was really dramatic. So at the period after he left there was a long time that I could not imagine it.

 

Then later I saw some of his works. Because his wife gave me some of his catalogs. In the process of flipping through the catalogs I was very surprised... It was really short... only twenty years from about thirty years. In around twenty years, he created so many artworks and participated in so many exhibitions I thought he has the most artistic achievement among our classmates.

 

In his student era Lee Kuen-Lin’s painting were very realistic and very nice. I thought, god, he was such a genius. I thought how could he paint so realistic? He also gave me a piece of work which was super realistic. But he changed his style of artworks after leaving high school completely jump out of reality. Some inner things all related to life. Related to life and death. Then I realized that this was the most authentic of himself. It is the most realistic art in his heart. This is what I think as an artist, his last work should be able to convey some of his inner thoughts.  Then it can be the best artwork I think Lee Kuen-Lin has done it.

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