a multi-disciplinary dialog
Posted by Bob Martin on March 1st, 2007
Filed in art and politics,art education,from imagination,motivational,painting,Uncategorized
For me, sometimes, there is a single place or moment that rises well above everything else and in your painting it happens now, where the child’s knuckles press against the man’s collarbone. Everything else disappears.
Bob has done something very special which you point out in your comment, but it is a quiet touch. Thank you for showing it to me.
There is a lot more to this painting of course. Aside from the story, the aesthetic craftsmanship is superb. I especially like the red shape at the left, which dances with the flowers in the frame and the book on the shelf. The shape on the left could be a chair, or a table, but it is foremost an abstraction. What is remarkable is that although it is such a bold color, it takes its appropriate place in the background.
I wonder why the man has his arms outstretched as if he is receiving an offering from the viewer… Or am I interpreting too much into this? It also looks like the child is looking with some amount of trepidation to something on to man’s right side… Maybe there is some negotiation going on…
It is very evocative nevertheless… an apt continuation to Bob’s post last week on ‘Story Telling’.
As mentioned by others, this is a great story-telling piece. Stories are how we tell our deeper truths.
One thing I like about the composition is the way the various rectangular edges balance and direct our attention to the rounded faces.
Nice observation, D., I wonder if that intimate touch would benefit from being emphasized a little by showing wrinkles in the shirt where the child is holding on.
This is not religious art, but it clearly gets a lot of power from all the Mary and Jesus pictures we’ve seen.
I emailed your picture to a woman who told me a few minutes ago that this is how men and women rate their lives.
women: 1)family, 2) Self, 3) Career
men : 1) career, 2) self, 3) family
Formal qualities of a work often tend to move my eye into almost mindless wanderings. Such wanderings can be terrific, like in the domesticity of a Vuillard where the figures just blend into the rooms they inhabit. The intimacy is with the space and not the people.
But here, I find the reds, for example, which seem to be working as a compositional balance, more a distraction (a reminder that this is Art) from the Personal.
And as Steve mentions, the possibilities for more are exciting; not just the wrinkles of a shirt, but what about the skin?
What I’ve been doing as I looked at the image, read your post, and then read the comments is thinking about how the formal elements make comments about the story. I’m thinking that those little almost-Vuillard touches tells us about the angst that you see in the man’s eyes, even about the tentative way he holds the child. And that set me wondering about the lack of eye contact or intimacy between the two humans. There’s something that pulls each formal element away from each other formal element, as if the man and child were themselves terribly isolated even in this moment of commonality.
There’s no melting into each other, no melting into the background, not much contacting of the viewer (I can’t really tell where the child is looking). This reminds me of some of the sculptures of pioneer families that are so ubiquitous, particularly in the Plains states. There’s a kind of isolating that occurs in those sculptures, even while formally they are grouped as “family.”
Thanks all. This story for me is about the depiction of black people in the western world. The relationship of the young men to his son, that they are together, in a room with books and art, with no visible sign of a tattoo or a basketball, is not a fable.
Brigit, I’ve read these finding before and I think many men answer the question based on what they think is expected of them. The answer may changes when men are asked what do they want to be most important in their life.
Karl, here again is a question for me about how deep are we willing to go in creating art, asking questions, being honest. We have all gotten really good at anticipating what others (galleries, collector and critics) want from us.
Sunil, the hand (may need to paint this better) is actually holding the leg of the child.
D. I struggle with how much detail I want to force in the painting. At the moment I’m letting the painting sit for a while, let the paint dry and see what else I want to address and if it makes a difference in my msg. The painting has not had a chance to dry evenly, but once everything is dry I will be able to balance out the intensity of colors if needed.
I read the hands the way you intended them. I didn’t realize this was a work in progress, the paint still wet. I don’t want to interfere, but the idea of you adjusting this picture makes me anxious. I think it is very strong as it is. I read different interpretations of it in comments above, but a powerful image will always evoke different interpretations. Is the red the key, or out of balance? There are different opinions.
But what you have now works very well.
June sees a lack of connection in the people. I see realism. The father looks at us, a bit weary but content, the child is distracted. The son’s glance to the side breaks with the formality of the composition, which to me fits perfectly.
I like the man in his spiritual blue-violet and the boy in his teal clothing. I also like the red in the background so that the picture does not look sad.
I do see the bonding between the man and the child. I also feel the responsibility of the man for the child that may remind June of pioneer families.
Your comment explaining the picture stayed with me all of last evening and I just had to ask…
Do you think that a tattoo or a basketball would have been emblematic in a negative way if you had included it here?
Sunil, basketball and tattoos are not necessarily negative but more of a profile cliche for young black men in the States. But what I see often are young men with their children in rather normal, almost dull environments, so I wanted to try a paint that. Thanks for the question, I really appreciate your interest.
Bob, Thank you for clarifying. The moment I read your two lines that explained your thought behind the painting, it became even more beautiful.
I have copied the lines that Bob wrote that had this effect on me:
“This story for me is about the depiction of black people in the western world. The relationship of the young men to his son, that they are together, in a room with books and art, with no visible sign of a tattoo or a basketball, is not a fable”