Final Artistic Analysis
Today my final art analysis was due. I had to give a presentation that had to last six minutes, but had to be less than ten minutes. I was very afraid that I’d run under, but I surprised myself and ran nine minutes! Pretty good! Here’s the piece I analyzed by Darrell Black (from The Viewing Program on drawingcenter.org):
There are many other instances of art that he has done that’s in this particular collection, but they’re kind of hard to reach via a link. If you want to see more of Darrell Black’s pieces in that particular collection go to drawingcenter.org and then click on The Viewing Program and enter Darrell Black into the search box.
So, I take in this piece. At first it looks deranged, even repulsive, quite chaotic. I wouldn’t generally assign much import to such a piece, but art class has opened my eyes a bit about art interpretation. The more I looked at this piece, the more I grew to like it.
The title of this piece is “Face of Concentration” with ink and pen, unknown variable dimension. On the surface, the image is symmetrical, but in its own way asymmetrical, like a real face. In fact, this piece seems to be a mixture of contradictions. You could piece this up into parts of three, but you could also split it vertically in two as well. There’s quite a bit of surprising ambiguity here.
The title of this piece is “Face of Concentration”
Darrell Black has a bit of a history to him, that I explained in class. I quoted that he was originally a very creative child, and during the space race he became enamored with building little spaceships out of household items. Apparently, there was talk of institutionalizing him, but his parents decided that that wasn’t appropriate and instead fostered his creativity. Well, in a handful of years he amassed, I believe, 500 images (you can check the full biography). Then he joined the military and didn’t draw for years. When he was returning from the service he wanted to see his old drawings again, but his mother had thrown them out! He was so affected he swore off drawing entirely, that is until he found a few photographs of his previous work that had survived. This sparked his creativity and fueled his imagination. From then on, he drew. Now he lives in Germany.
Here’s the much more detailed biography on a user page on Wikipedia under his aptly named movement definism.
In his own words and in his artist statement on The Viewing Program I quote:
My work portrays various differences in human nature, from life’s everyday dramas to humankind’s quest to understanding Self. The pen and ink drawings transport viewers from the doldrums of their daily reality to a visual interpretation of another reality.
Anyways, I felt that the title frames the picture into a digestible piece, to me revealing the feature placement: large eyes, furrowed brow, the sliding away of the nose and mouth.
In terms of line, line separates each colored piece kind of like stained glass. Each line delineates an area of color, without them each shape would fade into the other. The line allows the features to be set such as the eyes or the nostrils.
The face is obviously deranged: the nostrils barely follow the nose, the mouth is imagined, but the eyes and brow are easily recognizable. The image itself does violate traditional portraiture, but not necessarily by shape alone, but through the feeling the contrasting colors lend.
The colors are paramount and vibrant. Not every line separation turns into a new color, with blues on blue. It is as if looking in a mirror, the color brings out each feature differently. The two features with any symmetry are the eyes and the nostrils. It’s difficult to say exactly what each color connotes, as they seem to work together as a whole. It reminds me of stained glass, like a church, explaining to us our version of reality. The red on one side forms a bit of a tint, a display of light. Through his eyes we can guess the red is from what he’s concentrating on. The blue on the other side casts the face in shadow. Almost as if the face is showing a transition from tranquil to focus on something glowing and unseen.
A classmate of mine also pointed out that the red could signify concentration, and the blue the state before. I thought that was interesting.
The solidness of each color is necessary for giving us a reflection or interpretation of pieces of facial reality, accentuating the eyes in this piece. Notice he doesn’t use a single kin tone, mostly primary extremes. It’s telling me that this is meant to be a face, but a face outside our normal perception.
The shapes themselves are simultaneously repetitive, but also unique. A continuing characteristic of the contradictions found here. The technique is repetitive, the solid shapes and line, but the result is unique. When I look at a face, there are elements repetitive to every face, but at the same time each face is unique. Lacking solid structure, the piece imitates that repetition in that style through the technique.
He used pen and ink to develop this picture. It contributes to the shading and texture of each block, rendering it not completely the same throughout. The blocks are actually just repeated lines of ink when it comes down.
The artist speaks of the work transporting the viewer to a visual interpretation of another reality. To me the other reality is how we emotionally see inside our intellects. The choices of stark color are filled in by our reactions to the outside world. By assigning color and shape to these reactions we’ve arrived at a face.
There is no true focal point I think to this piece, but I found myself immediately drawn to the eyes. The eyes are very powerful, and if this had a technical focal point, that would be it. I was immediately drawn to the eyes. I tend to think this composition evokes a bit of revulsion of the strange, but also familiarity with the action in the title: concentration. I think the extremely contrasting colors impart confusion, reaction, and curiosity.
In another way, it’s also like looking at a child’s interpretation of a face. This could be true if Darrell was inspired by his ‘childhood’ drawings. It’s both the face and the emotion in one, imagined by a very young child. After gazing for a while I also got the sense of child’s play. Exploration of color completely. This probably adds to its mystery or message when examining it at an adult level. This is most apparent in the total disfigurement of the face.
After I made my presentation one girl pointed out the thin scratchy lines, and wondered what I thought about those. I had to honestly answer that I hadn’t even noticed the squiggly lines. It was a bit embarrassing, but I couldn’t just make something up on the spot. I think I just saw through those as some form of static, I hadn’t considered them part of the piece at all. Now that I do see it I do wonder what they could mean, or speak of. I really don’t know.
So after the analysis I was supposed to share my final art project where I steal a technique or piece from this artist and use it in my own work. I had to turn in the proposal papers and I wrote them by hand, so I don’t have mine. However, I was thinking I might shoot for pastel on fine black sandpaper. I’ll have to get a lot of fine black sandpaper form Home Depot. I was venturing that I would do a whole figure rather than just a face. Quite the project! We’ll see how it goes…