Corridor in the Asylum Vincent van Gogh
I chose this image to demonstrate not all drawings are equal, and although pre-20th century drawings seem to focus on lineart and contours; this case illustrates how that may not always be the situation. In this picture, Van Gogh used the very same techniques employed in his paintings but simplified, layers are reduced because of the capacity of the medium, in this case, oil colours over black chalk. In this composition you can see how the artist used many traditional drawing techniques including the use of pink paper so that he may leave areas of the page blank for blocks of solid colour; the layering of oil over a chalk ‘sketch’; and the use of one-point perspective to narrate the dramatically receding corridor. A straighter, cleaner and bolder look than the usual paintings were the benefits that using this medium brought; yet it also limited the capacity to mix and develop unique colours, i.e. he was working with a limited palette. Drawing in one material is a very limited use of the medium, and I think here the artist used his resources to the best of his ability.
Heart of the Andes Frederic Edwin Church
This photorealistic painting caught my attention and I thought it would be an excellent example here, for most paintings tend to either depict a scene separate from the viewer or try to convince the viewer that the scene is real. This picture, in my opinion, does neither, but rather emerges itself as an opening into the scene; not here in the real world, but not flat and unreal either, like looking through a window to see a gorgeous view. The painting is extremely detailed, and the medium allows for the grading of colours, the changing of opacity gives the dimension and a glorious effect overall. Undoubtedly, painting is the best way to create a likeness minus a camera, And Church utilised this ability and created a stunning work of art.
The greatest ability of opaque (oil) paint is the capacity to layer and the detail that can be achieved by the repeated layering of minuscule strokes, a technique that was greatly taken advantage of here the sheer size alone allowed him to create such intense imagery; I have to believe that Church chose the right medium for what he desired to create, a masterpiece of which we can all appreciate. To have such skill as to recreate both detailed and up-close foliage and long-distance landscape in the same painting is a testament to the greatness of the artist.
Shadows without Shading Kuma naki kage
This book is a collection of silhouette portraits of a group of fictitious friends. Each page comprises a brief biography beside an illustration, a shadow portrait and a kyōka (satirical poem). The title of the book implies a double meaning: “shadows without shading,” also translated: “shadows without hidden thoughts inside.” Rather than shown realistically, the shadowed portraits may be represented as their true selves, revealing unreserved thoughts in their satirical poems.
The nature of printmaking is clean and illustrated, and I chose the example because many prints try to replicate handmade sketches of collages, whereas this study takes the medium for what it is without trying to replicate anything else. Much of the styling is done in the traditional Japanese fashioning and book layouts, particularly the depth techniques. You may notice the background behind the silhouettes is not flat, but rather a pale gradient, matched with the red/blue gradient of the adjacent textbox – which as we can see, has a layer of white patterns over the background, and black text over that. This work, being a book, is not a standalone piece, which is why you have to consider the layout, how the pages match next to each other and a consistent theme is maintained throughout the book, which, so far as I can see, it is, despite there not being a digital version nor video of the full book.
Printmaking is traditionally used, in most culture, as more of a practical invention than an art form, although this can be said of much of the Japanese printing, I find they have an affinity for aesthetics, particularly in fiction material. Many might argue my example is not an artwork given its practical use as a book, but, after tracing its location to an art gallery and studying the culture surrounding this type of material, I’ve concluded that this is very much art, just as westerners might debate on whether a large aesthetic graffiti is art or vandalism. I think anyone viewing this can see the artistic value of this meticulous printing.
Out Of The Forest Patrick Bremer
This piece is a cut-paper collage on linen, I chose this work because I think it has a good balance of intangible to recognisable imagery; my belief is that the art of collage-making is resigned to becoming mostly abstract as it’s obvious that multiple sources of materials have been pasted onto each other creating a distorted effect – even if you try your best to blend an image, the tell-tale lines will still be there. Whereas in this case, instead of the more traditional grouping of larger chunks, disguising the lines, and trying to pick similar colours; the artist strongly contrasted smaller pieces, using them to create shadows and highlights and the figure is clear and detailed, not distorted. The composition is geometrical yet accurate – the colour and shape elements are imaginative, but the proportion is realistic. The dual background made good use of the capacity to abstractify, brown book paper allows you to easily identify the figure from the background and white paper highlights on the body allow you to distinguish it from the blue. The left half of the background seems to glitch over the figure and you may even notice at the bottom the arms seem to melt, drip, away into the blue, much natural scenery is used and it gives me the feeling of the figure emerging, probably due to the title.
The artist creates many portraits and figures in this style, he has experimented and toiled with it, and I believe, mastered the art of collaged figures. This is not an easy medium to manipulate, because, as previously mentioned, it can either look like you are very bad at merging images, or completely abstract. I find this is a refreshing new approach to the use of this medium, employing traditional collage techniques of sticking, layering and use of colour, but combining it in a whole new way.