Sunday, October 21, 2012

QMA Art Compare & Contrast & Review

The exhibition at the QMA that caught my eye was the "Carribbean: Crossroads of the World" exhibit. The Carribbean is one of the most culturally diverse places on Earth, and this exhibit shows this by featuring a lot of very different artwork. Two pieces of art that I was able to find photographed online are "T.R. in Panama" by Edward Laning and "Poster of La Plena" by Rafael TufiƱo.

"T.R. In Panama"  is a vivid and realistic looking scene. The entire canvas is filled with every detail of the moment - the smoke, the cloudy sky, the mountains and people in the background, etc. The colors and shapes are realistic and organic. This painting reminds me of classic war paintings like "Washington Crossing The Delaware". It gives off a feeling of chaos and movement and violence, but not in a negative way. It's almost desensitized, like something you would see in a history textbook. It looks as though someone recreated a photograph that was taken at the scene. It is not gory or dark - there is light, and light colors, and the focus of the painting is the center - starting from the man in the red shirt, and bringing your eyes up to the American Flag, in a vertical line. This painting has an aura of victory, and proud struggle.

The La Plena poster, on the other hand, is not realistic at all. The shapes are organic enough so that you can see that the focal figure is clearly an older man, and details like his hair and wrinkled face are there. Yet, because of the rigid light/dark contrast (there are pretty much only 3 shades of lightness on his face - white, black, and dark gray), it comes off almost cartoon-ish, like a semi-realistic graphic novel. It is quite curious, actually, how the unrealistic lighting alone is what makes the man look abstract, even when he is perfectly in proportion and made of organic shapes. His shirt is one shade of plain red except for some rigid shading to imply the folds in the fabric. The red shirt contrasts with his pitch black hands, which contrasts with the pure yellow background. The lack of lighting, shading, and detail in this piece are what make everything contrast so much. There are smaller figures in the background, but they do not call much attention. If you look at them, you can see that they are even less detailed than the focal figure, as though they were colored on MS Paint or something. The general feel of the poster is that of something almost mystical. Not magical, mind you, but the fact that it is an unrealistic depiction of a mundane human man make you feel that the scene from which this is captured must have had a strange, legendary, and emotionally and culturally-charged atmosphere.

What I feel is similar about the two pieces are the color choices - lots of red and yellow. Even the smokey-ness of the first painting cannot make it look nearly as gloomy as, say, a cloudy, wintery New York City day. It does seem as though these two pieces share a setting. I also think the overall tone of the two pieces is positive.

As for my review of my visit of the QMA, I have to say that I liked it, and found it less intimidating than other art museums I have visited. I usually feel very confused and under-educated when I visit larger-scale art museums. I never seem to know anything about the artists, or the movements, or the styles. Although there was a lot I didn't understand on a technical level at the QMA, sections such as the Carribbean exhibition I did not feel were intimidating, even though I had no prior knowledge of the styles or movements that they pertained to. The Carribbean exhibition, for example, was a testament to culture and diversity, which is something anyone can understand. This definitely made me appreciate my visit at the QMA even more than say, the standard school field trip to the MoMa (an example of an art museum that never ceases to confuse and overwhelm me).

1 comment:

  1. Great Work Erika- you picked two very different works and observed them well, noticing how the formal elements and compositional principles were being used, especially when discussing the “simplification and graphic elements in the second piece. I also think the QMA is a very welcoming museum. Nice writing! 5/5