傾聽高靈的聲音:閱讀李昆霖的心靈圖像 Listen to the Voices of the Great Man ⎯ Lee Kuen Lin’s Map of the Psyche
以榮格心理學來看，本我（Self）是心靈的整體，而李昆霖的心靈象徵結構，從肢體器官的分離、重組，動物、山水元素的介入，終至全部整合成為一體，這種個體化的過程（the process of individuation），冥冥中似有一種高靈（Great Man）的指導，以致於在藝術創作的過程中，得以同時進行心靈的整合。
「本我」有另一種化身，榮格稱之為「積極想像」（active imagination），是與心靈現象建立有意識連繫的途徑，它類似冥想修行，與主宰潛意識的企圖正好相反，它可以得到自由個體的孤獨經驗。在李昆霖的一些作品中，由「孤丘」一至五，以至於「光氳」「空想之豁」「思想」等，似乎顯現了修行意象，甚至具有禪意。但基本上，李昆霖是反對把它們歸為修行之類的，究竟這是本我象徵的呈現，是因面面俱到的壓抑，孤獨的冥想遂可能成為一種釋放的出口 。
Listen to the Voices of the Great Man
--- Lee Kuen Lin’s Map of the Psyche
The Symbol of the Self: A Trinity of Man, Beast, and Landscape
In a primitive society, rocks are often considered the residence of fairies or gods; hence possess “spirits”. Spirits then becomes the critical point between religions and artistic symbols. At the same time, animals are also used to symbolize the primitive instincts of human beings. Thus, figures of human, animals or the combination of two are common totems seen in both western and eastern early art forms. These mysterious expressions contain complex psychological meanings. To view these totems from the collective unconsciousness proposed by Carl G. Jung, it could be said that modern people have inherited these symbols as well as the animal-like primitive mindset, which still appear in and affect the minds of modern people rather unexpectedly. They might be expressed in the forms of dreams, or men’s artistic creation.
Looking back, Lee combined a feet with 2 breasts in his work in 1991, Loneliness I. The reconstruction and combination of organs and body parts is an important feature of Lee’s early works. As time progresses, animals and landscape are also blended in. Since then, human beings, animals and nature have been Lee’s creation matrix, which constantly and unwittingly reappears in series and series of paintings. This is what Lee calls his “original place” and “original self”. Over the years, he says, he’s been trying to paint something else, to separate himself from this matrix, but he couldn’t. In the end, he still goes back to this “original place” where a trinity of elements is always there. It is displayed fully in his 2006 – 2007 collection, The One-Foot Celestial Being’s Journey Map: the body is the landscape and vise versa; human being and the beast are one; and the nature is the animal. All the primitive totems, via the connection of collective unconsciousness, transcend through time and space, and break through the limitation of reason. They are presented in Lee’s paintings in forms of random mixture.
Lately, this writer has studied his 2008 – 2009 collection, and found that this trinity, this prototype of his psyche reappeared in many of his works, including Triangular Pyramid, Hazy Light, Wanderer, Cups of Broken Hearts, Dance of the Forest, etc. This integrated symbol echoes what Lee said about the return to his original place.
Self is the entirety of a person’s psyche, said Jung. Lee’s structure of this mental symbol, which experienced a journey from the separation and reconstruction of body parts, the intervention of animals and landscape, to the integration of all the elements, could be seen as a process of individuation. It is as if there is a Great Man, instructing imperceptibly, so that he is able to integrate his psyche along with the process of artistic creation.
When the Night Lights Up the Night: Listen to the Voices of the Great Man
In terms of Lee’s artistic evolution, there’s something unprecedented and unusual in this new collection ¾ figures with wide-open eyes that are watching or peeking from somewhere in the picture. You can see a set of clear window to the soul in Intoxication, The Old Man Who Releases, God of Spring, Dawn, Dance of the Spring, Dusk, Inspiration, among others. “Basically, it’s looking out from the canvas,” said Lee. “You’re looking at it, and it’s looking at you.” Sometime it probes its head and sometime it peeks in darkness. Whichever way it does it, to look from inside out, one sees an unknown world, and to look from outside in, one sees mysterious secrets.
The Naskapi Indians in Peru relies heavily on inner voices and subconscious revelations because of a sense of solitude caused by the distance between individual tribes. They refer to souls as friends, or Mista’peo, which means the Great Man. Jung said that the inner core of a person’s psyche is the self, which is the creator, constructor, and the entirety of the psyche. These eyes of clarity depicted by Lee are substantially different from those eyes of hollow darkness seen in his earlier works. These new eyes imply the existence of the eye of the psyche, and the observation of those eyes symbolizes the existence of the Great Man. Obviously, during the process of individuation, Lee has perceived the being of the Great Man, thus he has entered a higher level of his own existence, and possessed more ability to exhibit a positive creativity of the self.
Regarding Watch in the Breeze, Lee pointed that, “human observes animals and tiny beings, and human should look after them.” However, in these paintings, the giant observer’s tenebrous image seems to be saying that the Great Man is watching and protecting itself, or watching the person it wishes to protect. On the other hand, the women in Watch in the Breeze and Dance of the Forest, and the fish and the undefined figures in The Man Who Releases and Intoxication seem to be the embodiment of anima. So-called anima is the embodiment of the female tendency in all men, as well as a negotiator between the self and the ego. The appearance of anima helps the painter to begin the process of individuation and to restore the order in his psyche.
This latest collection applies more black tone than before. Paintings such as Wanderer I, Wanderer II, A Hallucinating Tunnel, Cups of Broken Hearts, Champion and When the Night Lights Up the Night all possess this mysterious darkness. When the night lights up the night, the Great Man lights up darkness with darkness. Hence the inky night gets inkier, and we’re led further into the secretive domain. This paradox is exactly the relation of divinity and evilness. Beastliness is the flip side of humanity, just as the shadow is the flip side of light. To be a complete human being, one needs to embrace the dark side within him. Similar philosophy can also be found in the Daoism tai chi symbol: the principle of carrying the ying and embracing the yang. Bearing this philosophy in mind, we can see the sophistication and the fascination of Triangular Pyramid much clearer now. The one-leg man-beast behind the triangular pyramids seems to be resting as well as launching into flight. Its resemblance to the Jewish Mysticism Merkabah ready to take off is unmistakable. Furthermore, the “black lake” often seen in the One-Foot Celestial Being’s Journey Map series has transfigured into a ring of black light, which is the soul and spirit of the painter, as well as the symbol of the Great Man in one’s self
A Lonesome Multi-Faceted Buhda: A Spiritual Wanderer
This writer has once interpreted the One-Foot Celestial Being’s Journey Map series as a paradise for loners where lonely individuals come to enjoy themselves contently. Though Lee has always possessed this solitary essence, he later left the paradise and returned to the real world. This is not a world of freedom, so implies Well-Rounded. The Erawan Shrine look-alike figure sits on the lotus root and has branches growing on top of it, but this is only a seemingly harmony. “We’re all expected or demanded to be well-rounded, but not necessarily in the way we wish to do it,” Lee explained.
There’s another incarnation of the self, which Jung called active imagination, i.e a conscious connection to one’s psyche. It is similar to meditation, and contrary to the attempts that rule our subconsciousness. Active imagination allows free individuals to gain experiences of solitude. Part of Lee’s 2008 - 2009 collection, including Solitary Hill I to V, Hazy Light, A Dale of Fantasy and Thought, seems to show this intention of meditation, and even thoughts of zen. Yet, Lee refuses to categorize them as works of meditation. After all, these paintings are a reflection of his self, which is suppressed by the expectation of being well-rounded, and thus could only be liberated by this solitary contemplation.
However, besides discharging loneliness with loneliness, some other works exhibits a dynamic and floating image to provide an outlet other than mediation. Wanderer I and Wanderer II are the best examples of such image. “I am a spiritual wanderer,” said Lee. Hence, as a physical practitioner and a spiritual wanderer, Lee puts before us a unique solution to respond to the calling of the Great Man and to enter the process of individuation: solitary thinkers could wander and then drift outwards.
Conclusion: Fly With It
Recently, Lee has been enjoying shuttling through alleyways and woods. Once, he had a car accident on a steep downward turn, and flew out when the accident occured. Instead of being frightened by that experience, he told this writer, “When there’s an upcoming danger that you can’t control, you might as well just fly with it.”
This is exactly Lee’s philosophy of life. In face of the constraint of needing to be well-rounded and the anguish encountered by many fellow artists, he does not deal with it sedulously. “It’s ok if things are out of hand. Just fly with it first.” So is with life, and so is with painting. In the creative process that is simple, natural and easy, individuation has silently begun. The primitive calling of the Great Man in the self is constantly telling him the secrets, so even though this loner has left the paradise, he can still reconcile in whatever situation he’s in and fly with it. Lee is a great listener for the voices of the Great Man. Hence his work is always abundant with energy, and ready to show new faces.