Friday, July 22, 2011

Minimal

Recently, we were at an art exhibition where I saw a tiny oil painting depicting two runaway slaves hiding in Dismal Swamp. The most amazing thing was the clear expression of fear on their faces when in fact the artist had not drawn a single facial feature. The figures were too small for that amount of detail. Whether you stood inches away from the picture or a feet away, you could not fail to notice the two tiny figures cowering in terror. Of all the paintings I saw that day, this one was my favorite. Reading about this extreme pointillism version of Monalisa  reminded me of that picture. In this case, a very famous painting has been reduced to its basic color palette and because of how familiar we are with it, there is that element of recognition - you can see the form of Monalisa where she does not exist. I wonder how it works with paintings like the one I saw at the exhibition - a faceless face conveying a full range of emotion. 

Both seem to be about minimalism but in completely different ways - the Monalisa print in 170 colored dots takes away everything but the colors of the original, the other is about a detailing the atmosphere to invoke the desired emotion but stripping it away from the subject who should have borne it.

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