Richard Hamilton – Interior II
A single look at the Interior II is enough to realize how clever and subtle the use of space and perspective is. Very sloppy and rough at the first glance, Interior II reveals a range of subtle ideas. The unique perspective of the picture stresses the emotional tension that the entire picture is shot through with. The fact that the surfaces are not conjoined, as well as the abundance of blank space in the picture, allows expressing the hesitation experienced by the character through creative surrealism. The wide-angle lens, which the entire scene is portrayed through in the picture, adds to the impression of the artificiality of people’s social lives and signifies a desperate need for change.
Paul Feiler – The Near and the Far
Of all artists, who use space and tone to get their message across, Feiler seems to be the most successful one. Feiler manages to capture the very essence of abstraction, his every painting representing what critics define as “ambiguity of our visual experiences”2. Though “The Near and the Far” (Tate Silvers para. 1) can be seen as rather simplistic, it incorporates very complex and original decisions in terms of tone and space; to be more specific, the contrast between the light center and the darker elements, which fade into an unexpectedly light contour, is truly amazing. Feiler’s spatial explorations provoke the viewers for relating the context of the painting to the basic philosophical duality.
Zhang Enli – Space Painting
Another prominent artist that uses tone and space to render the most delicate experiences and emotions, Enli creates artworks that are easily recognizable to any viewer. No matter how complex the message behind the artwork is, the painting sums it up concisely, with the key elements being locked in the boundaries of the space that the artist uses. A Sober Painting is the exact representation of Enli’s philosophy; it creates an “immersive dimension”3, which sucks the viewer in, therefore, allowing the latter to enter the surreal world created by the artist. The original use of space and tone, primarily, color, helps Enli stir the viewers’ imagination and become a part of Enli’s reality.
Adrian Heath – White Collage
In the world of art, collages seem to have been underrated, which is rather unfair. Adrian Heath’s White Collage4 is a perfect example of rendering the slightest emotions solely with the help of abstract imagery. One of the most fascinating things about White College is that there is not a single element of what is traditionally considered the white color– the collage incorporates such tones as eggshell, beige, grey steel, yet the traditional white color is nowhere to be seen. Nevertheless, the viewers get an impression of observing pure whiteness. The idea of the white color being represented by other ones is packed with a range of philosophic and religious implications (White Collage 1954).
The idea of representing black on black, following Malevich’s Supremacism and the concept of white on white, has served as an inspiration for several artists, according to what critics say5, and Mark Rothko is one of them. Though Rothko is known mostly for his experiments in mixing black and other colors (“Black on Maroon,” “Black on Gray,” etc.), he also created a few works, in which he shed the light on the possible ways of interpreting the combinations of the black color and other ones, including the aforementioned maroon, gray, blue, etc. One of the least discussed yet nonetheless brilliant works by Rothko, In the Tower represents a unique combination of light and darkness, thus, creating another religious allusion.
Mark Rothko – Composizione 76
Another black-on-black artwork, which was inspired by Rothko, as the author explains, and yet has a unique feel to it, Composizione 76 offers a set of quite different motions for the audience to experience. Unlike the works by Rothko, the painting by Senesi creates an impression of straightforwardness and intense emotions. It would be wrong to claim that there is nothing subtle about this artwork, yet the choice of colors is quite aggressive, a brightly colored red line splitting the painting in half. Unlike Rothko’s works, which encourage the viewer for long and profound reflections, Senesi’s work leaves a very unsettling impression; the deliberate balance distortion implied in the artwork makes the atmosphere rather stifling.
Kazimkir Malevich – White on White
Apart from Adrian Heath, a range of other artists have tried depicting white on white in collages. However, when it comes to mentioning the innovator, who came up with the idea of using solely the white color in the creation of stellar artworks, Kazimir Malevich and his “White on White” must be mentioned. This Supremacist composition makes me wonder what the function of color in a painting is.
It seems that color can be seen as a perfect tool for conveying emotion, as the artist said himself7. Indeed, the calm and peacefulness that the entire painting breathes, owes much to the choice of color. The lack of symmetry in the artwork can also be viewed as a message about the imperfection of human nature, the necessity to live in harmony with the rest of the world, and the everlasting conflict between nature and nurture.
John Singer Sargent – Fumée d’Ambre Gris
Malevich, however, was not the only artist, who tried combining seemingly incompatible colors. Apart from Malevich’s famous “White on White” composition, several paintings are featuring different shades of white, and Fumée d’Ambre Gris by John Singer Sargent is one of them. At this point, however, it will be reasonable to stress that the painting in question does not belong to the Supremacist genre; instead, it can be classified as an Impressionist artwork. Sargent’s painting of an old man wearing white clothes and on a white background, however, does share a couple of details with the works of Supremacists.
The careful use of color as the key tool for conveying not only the mood but also the emotion is one of those approaches. Again, the work cannot be considered comparable to the works of Supremacists because of the obvious differences in the specifics of the style, yet some of the choices that Sargent made echo with the concepts of color as the tool for rendering emotions that Supremacists created.
Boris Orlow – Three-Headed Totem
Much like the theme of colors being the basic tool for expressing emotions and rendering impressions, the theme of monumental remains the very foundation of art. The concept of monumentalism has been represented in a variety of ways in art, and new means of viewing the old concept emerge regularly. Perhaps, when talking about modern monumentalism in art, one should bring up such artwork as “Three-Headed Totem” by Boris Orlow8.
As Tate Britain says, this is the kind of New Monumentalism that the audience has been waiting for – the scale and proportions of the elements of the picture create a truly surreal impression of watching historic events. The sharp, abrupt line work and the mercilessly bright color cast of the painting restore the spirit of the epochs of great conquers; the Byzantine Empire, Ancient Rome, and other powerful states rise from the ashes as the “Three-Headed Totem” appears on the display.
Diego Rivera – The History of Mexico
Another Monumentalist work worth mentioning, the art created by Diego Rivera also helps embrace the grandeur of the universe; however, unlike the previous work, Rivera’s oil paintings focus on the grandness of small things. It is truly fascinating that such works as The History of Mexico, which is truly fascinating in the number of ideas and innuendoes hidden inside it, focus on people rather than on the events themselves, therefore, creating a narrative pattern. Unlike other Monumentalists, Rivers paid incredible attention to details; every single element in the picture is supposed to render a certain idea or concept, and putting them in a different order means destroying the idea that the picture is based on. Rivera’s artworks make me feel the emotions that the people in his pictures experience; the paintings are practically turned into short stories, and the more I look at them, the more they reveal.
Cathelijn van Goor – Jellyfish
Speaking about landscape drawing means speaking about Cathelijn van Goor. Of all artists, who preferred depicting landscape to portraying people, van Goor must have been the first one to realize that time can be integrated into artwork as one of its elements. Casting a single glance at “Jellyfish” is enough to realize that in his paintings, time does not freeze, unlike in the paintings created by other artists; instead, van Goor manages to capture the very essence of time. One of the reasons for van Goor to integrate the concept of time so successfully in his landscape painting is that she manages to depict motion and, more importantly, change.
Volker H. Bienek – Donkey Head
Volker H. Bienek is another artist, who is capable of grasping time and depicting it on the canvas. Unlike any other artist, Volker H. Bienek manages to draw images within seconds, as he explains it, as researchers explain11. As a result, he manages to capture the slightest emotions and impulses that run through people’s minds, representing them as the images on the canvas. When I come to think of it, I realize that the entire artistic process of creating a painting is extremely complicated for Bienek; not only does he have to grasp a certain emotion, but also view it through the lens of his artistic style; as a result, surreal artworks emerge, looking amazingly magnificent and incredibly weird.
“Boris Orlow’s Biography.” Saatchi Gallery. n. d. Web.
Buoso, Sara. “Zhang Enli: Space Painting.” Juliet Art Magazine. 2013. Web.
“Cathelijn van Goor – Jellyfish.” Saatchi Art. n. d. Web..
“Disintegrated Hong Kong – Jellyfish.” Saatchi Art. n. d. Web.
Diego Rivera. The History of Mexico. n. d. Web.
Malevich, Kazimir. Suprematism. Mineola, NY: Courier Dover Publications. 2003.
Manchester, Elizabeth. Interior II 1964. 2007. Web.
“Mark Rothko: Black on Maroon 1958.” Tate. n. d. Web.
“Paul Feiler: The Near and the Far.” Tate. 2005. Web.
Senesi, Michele. “Composizione 76.” Saatchi Art. n. d. Web.
“Volker H. Bienek.” Saatchi Art. n. d. Web.
“White Collage 1954.” Tate. n. d. Web.
- Elizabeth Manchester, Interior II 1964, 2007. Web.
- “Paul Feiler: The Near and the Far,” Tate, 2005. Web.
- Sara Buoso, “Zhang Enli: Space Painting,” Juliet Art Magazine. 2013. Web.
- White Collage 1954,” Tate, n. d. Web.
- “Mark Rothko: Black on Maroon 1958,” Tate, n. d. Web.
- Michele Senesi, “Composizione 76,” Saatchi Art, n. d. Web.
- Kazimir Malevich, Suprematism (Mineola, NY: Courier Dover Publications. 2003), p. 8.
- “Boris Orlow’s Biography,” Saatchi Gallery, n. d. Web.
- Diego Rivera. The History of Mexico, n. d. Web.
- “Cathelijn van Goor – Jellyfish,” Saatchi Art, n. d. Web.
- “Volker H. Bienek,” Saatchi Art, n. d. Web.