A Preface by
Professor Tung Meng Mei
I became acquainted with Ling Ko in October 2001, during her exhibit at the Cultural Gallery at Taipei's National Music Hall. This first exhibit of hers, with its fresh approach to painting, varied techniques, and brilliant colors, garnered her high acclaim from the art community Despite the differences in our ages and academic pursuits, we spoke like old friends at this first meeting. When she invited me to pen a preface for her album, I wholeheartedly, and somewhat boldly agreed.
Ling Ko's induction into the realm of art was purely incidental. A meeting with her first mentor Shan-Shen Yang, the master painter of the Ling-nan School, opened doors to a new world of art, resulting in great progress in her painting skills. Another meeting with the famous Taiwanese painter Mr. Yuan-Hai Li enabled her to develop her talents in contemporary Chinese painting. Now, in her spare time when not engaged In sitting meditation, she works arduously on her art. Her skill in the fields of calligraphy, painting, and music have developed tremendously. By bringing her specialty of ink and watercolor splash to a higher level, she allows audiences a glimpse into a new face of modern Chinese painting. One might even call her the one-woman power at thc forefront of contemporary Chinese art.
One can trace the course of development of Chinese ink painting from its roots to Ling Ko's contemporary style. Wang Chia of the Tang Dynasty, known for his ink splash depictions of landscapes, rocks, and pines, is one of China's most renowned traditional painters. However, his notoriety for being a drunkard outstrips the fame of his ink splashes. His student, Ku Huang. also drank each time before picking up his brush. Ku Huang's ink splashes were often created in an intoxicated state of frenzy, and his behavior grew to be more infamous than that of his teacher's. None of their works, however, have survived to today. After this pair, the term "po_mo" was coined to refer to the technique of using lighter shades of ink to break the monotony of darker shades and vice versa. This technique, however, was not taken seriously among artists until the South Song Dynasty when Mu Su, Liang Chich, and Wang Chien put the technique to significant use. The phrase "shui-mo hua¨, water and ink splash, was coined later by the Japanese. In recent years, many art institutes have renamed this Chinese approach to painting as "water and ink splashing". After this came "ink and watercolor paintings", From a modern perspective, Ling Ko's style falls into the category of "ink, water, arid color splashes".
In his later years, after a European tour, the master painter Chang Ta Chien garnered much praise for his landscape paintings that used the ink and watercolor splash technique. This period of Chang's work was considered by many to be his greatest. When Chang painted, he mounted his paper to a wooden board, first applied ink splashes, then followed with splashes of watercolor. He restricted himself to only two shades of green and sometimes employed white powder. These three colors were mineral based and their ability to diffuse through paper was very poor. So during the painting process, Chang had to apply the colors before the background ink dried, and he would apply water at the borders of color strokes to enhance their diffusion. He also employed a third method of placing the mounted paper at an angle to help the colored inks diffuse. His experiments provide insight into the development of the various theories and techniques of Chinese painting. It is clear, however, that Ling Ko's paintings demonstrate techniques different from those of Master Chang's. In Master Chang's paintings, black is the dominant color. In Ling Ko's paintings, colors prevail. The brilliant colors of her paintings are a feast for the eyes. Splashes of black ink, color, and water dynamically integrate into explosive, vibrant creations. The secret behind her creativity, as she herself has said, "lies in achieving the perfect contrast of ink tones and in exact balance in the blending of colors. From this arises a state of union between artist and subject". Ling Ko's paintings reside in the "realm beyond conceptualization" sought by Zen Buddhists, They are the result of images springing directly from the void of being, manifesting through a will of their own.
When Ling Ko first visited Master Shan-Shen Yang in Vancouver, B.C., Master Yang was in the middle of a painting. As she observed, he applied a brush stroke, turned to Ling. and asked, "What did you see?¨ Ling replied. "I noticed that you applied that stroke with optimal force and speed¨. Master Yang broke into a tacit smile. This incident is reminiscent of an episode recorded in the Buddhist Cannon where a similar exchange of thought occurred between mentor and apprentice at Spiritual Vulture Peak. Master Yang has often encouraged Ling with these words, "Shwu-lin, your splash paintings are full of energy and spirit Paint more, splash more¨. With his encouragement, Ling has abandoned herself to the splashing of water, ink, and color. Guided by the principle of "the more splashing, the better¨. Ling has amassed, over several years, a collection of beautiful splash paintings. The portfolio chat she has created in the past year is more impressive than ever. One can foresee that her next exhibit, scheduled for February of 2003 at Sun-Yat Sen's Memorial Hall in Taipei, will again bean overwhelming success.
In my mind, Ling Ko personifies the Buddhist ideal of "compassion for others and transcendence of the separation between self and other". Many years of Buddhist meditation have instilled in her a deep Zen wisdom. A philanthropist as well as a highly creative painter, she is a true bodhisattva who generously contributes to charities, helping countless sick and needy children around the world. Ling Ko presently resides in the Seattle area in the state of Washington. At the conclusion of this preface, I would like to add the following words of praise:
Contemplating Buddhism during the day,
Meditating tinder the moon,
One progresses to sudden enlightenment among the inks and colors.
Exhaling the old, inhaling the new,
The wind and moon cycle infinitely.
Amidst howling waves and changing clouds,
Myriad forms burst into existence.
Splashes of ink and color intermingle like clouds amidst water vapor.
A beautiful array appears, and suddenly disappears,
That which is ineffable can only be intuited.
柯淑玲居士，是一位富創意的畫家。也是一位樂善好施的佛門第子· 她學佛有年深通禪慧· 她具有佛家【無緣大慈，同體大悲】的胸懷，她慷慨解囊，濟度孤苦病童無數。她六度萬行造福世間，其可稱得上是一位大菩薩；柯居士於學佛修道之餘，無意中進入了藝術的領域，她勤學苦練，努力追求。因此對書法，繪畫與音樂．都有相當深入的體認。她有幸得到嶺南派大師，楊善深大師的啟發，使她畫藝大進。楊大師為她開啟了藝衛的大鬥，使她能在藝術的領域中，放懷天地任意縱橫。她又結識了台灣名畫家李源海先生，李先生帶領著她步上了藝術的康壯大道，使她有能力在中國藝壇上以展長才。她潑墨潑水也潑彩，並將此道發揮的淋漓盡致，使我們在她的作品中，見到了中國當代藝術的新貌。也可以說以她一人之力，為中國藝術開闢出一個新的局面；真是難能可貴。
在中國傳統藝術中，唐代的王洽，曾以潑墨法畫山水松石，他風顛酒狂之名遠勝於他的潑墨南其第子顧況，欲畫先飲，醉復於狂態中潑墨成畫，其狂名遠勝於乃師，此師徒二人皆無作品留傳於後世南後有！破墨l 一詞出現，那是指於作畫中用墨時，為求變化，濃墨以淡墨破之，淡墨以濃墨破之· 這種技法也未受此畫界的重視· 直到南宋的牧谿，梁楷，王澗諸位前賢，才有真正的水墨畫出現· 【水墨畫】 一詞還是日本人給取的。近年來是藝術學院招生時，將【中國畫】一科改為【水墨畫】，而後又有彩墨畫新名詞出現。若以令日眼光來看，柯淑玲的畫，應是彩墨畫中的潑墨潑彩兼潑水的畫，才是正確的名稱。