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Bilingual Arts: The Art of Chen Uen pt. II
雙語藝術:鄭問(二)

Photo 1: “Nie Zheng” from Legends of Assassins. 1986. Watercolor and ink on xuan paper.
圖一(右):〈聶政〉,選自《刺客列傳》。一九八六年。宣紙、水彩、墨。

Photo courtesy of Chung Meng-shun, Chen Uen Studio
照片:鄭問工作室鍾孟舜提供

Comic strips are stories told through a series of individual images. This requires not only the representation of the three-dimensional world of solid objects on a two-dimensional plane, but also that of the passage of time within the narrative.

Taiwanese cartoonist Chen Uen’s (1958-2017) Legends of Assassins, published in 1986, was the first comic strip painted in color and traditional Chinese ink, and it was based on the Biographies of the Retainer-Assassins in Sima Qian’s Records of the Grand Historian. Photos 1 and 2 relate scenes from the tale of a swordsman from the Spring and Autumn period named Nie Zheng, who traveled to the state of Han to assassinate the prime minister Xia Lei on the behalf of his benefactor.

These photos were facing pages in Legends of Assassins, the right side being a full-page picture of Nie Zheng rushing headlong into a group of soldiers, his sword held behind him slicing out an arrowhead path through the crowd. As the comic is opened to this spread, the full-page frame describes Nie Zheng’s speed and sheer power carving through the stunned soldiers, undeterred by their numerical superiority.

The left hand side of the spread, photo 2, is divided into scenes in quick chronological succession. The top quarter is a horizontal sequence to be read from right to left, starting with a close up of Nie Zheng’s face, a look of murderous intent flashing in his eyes. This is followed by a scene in landscape format with him brandishing his sword and pursuing Xia Lei, who wheels around, shouting to a soldier “kill him!” The next frame shows the soles of Nie Zheng’s feet as he springs into the air, the soldier slashing the empty space where he once was. This sequence builds up tension leading to the action in the scene below, taking up three-quarters of the page, where Nie Zheng, as if in a movie still using a low-angle shot, goes in for the kill.

Chen Uen, painting on xuan paper, uses Western perspective to create the feeling of space, and borrows the vocabulary of cinematic shots, interspersed with close-ups to tell the story. Meanwhile, for details such as the forms of the characters and the depiction of their clothing, the depiction of their clothing, the soldiers’ equipment reminiscent of those of the terracotta army and the architectural elements, he uses traditional Chinese ink wash techniques.

Despite the status generally accorded comic books, with Chen’s work, the comic book became a vehicle for experimenting with artistic possibilities. It is no wonder the National Palace Museum is currently putting on an exhibition of his works. “The Legacy of Chen Uen – Art, Life and Philosophy” runs through Sept. 17.

(Translated by Paul Cooper)

連環漫畫是用圖畫來說故事,因此除了要處理空間的問題——以平面畫幅呈現立體、三度空間的世界,也要處理敘事的時間向度。

鄭問(一九五八~二○一七)一九八六年出版的《刺客列傳》,是第一部以彩色水墨繪製的連環漫畫,故事取材自司馬遷《史記》的〈刺客列傳〉。〔圖一〕及〔圖二〕選自聶政的故事,描述春秋時代一位名叫聶政的勇士,為了報答恩人,隻身前往刺殺韓國宰相俠累。

這兩張圖為相鄰的兩頁,右方是佔了整頁的一張圖〔圖一〕——聶政朝眾士兵奔去,向後揮的劍在他背後帶出大幅三角形留白——書本翻開,這單張大圖瞬間表現出聶政的迅捷勇猛、讓士兵手足無措,以及雖千萬人吾往矣的氣勢。

左頁〔圖二〕則是以分鏡讓動作在時間中展開︰頁面上方四分之一橫切為一長條,由右至左依序分鏡為聶政殺氣騰騰的臉部特寫,接續橫向景框——聶政揮刀追向俠累,俠累奔逃,一邊轉頭命士兵:「快殺了他!」——然後是小框中聶政騰空的腳和劈空的士兵。這樣的節奏剪裁,帶出以下佔四分之三畫幅、仰角定格聶政騰空躍起,正要往下砍向俠累的瞬間張力。

鄭問運用了西洋的透視法營造出身歷其境的空間感,並運用俯角、仰角、特寫等電影分鏡的語彙來說故事。而人物衣著身形、兵馬俑般的盔甲、建築等細節卻是運用宣紙、渲染的中國水墨畫技巧。

在鄭問筆下,漫畫是藝術技巧實驗的載體,無論社會一般對「漫畫」的定位為何;也因為如此,台北故宮博物院第一次展出漫畫家的作品,「鄭問故宮大展」展期至九月十七日。

(台北時報林俐凱)

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