The point of this research is to look for contemporary works where I sensed some of the artist’s feeling, by looking at the way they approached their work, in order to consider if art is capable of expressing emotion. My view before this research, was that art can convey the artist’s feelings and emotions. Not just in the obvious mark making but also with the more delicate mark and care given to artwork showing a love and great care for the chosen subject. In the past I had only thought about this in a superficial way, from my own point of view. I paint and draw what I love and enjoy personally. After the initial exercises with mark making, I began to realise mine may be a subconscious act of feeling and emotion, but for others portraying that feeling can also be a conscious action, which is depicted in the subject matter by its application. In my view the two artists I have studied below show this conscious action in their pictures to a high degree, they are Otto Dix, and L S Lowry .
I chose a particular etching of Otto Dix, Buried Alive it depicted World War1 and the horrors of that war, soldiers dying in combat, etched with strong sharp thick strokes, disjointed and erratic, fading into an almost non-existent background giving the impression of decay and disintegration, until all is destroyed leaving nothing. It made me wonder what other horrors had happened before. The skeletal faces with reaching arms, give me the impression of dying men reaching out from the fear of death, decaying piles of human flesh, the struggle to survive and the futile fight. Also how many dead bodies were there, some dying, with other rotten corpses below. His work seems to portray his feeling from his very soul, not only in the subject matter but through the aggressive mark and the complete lack of, the stark contrast causing the mind to concentrate on the horror. This quote below by Otto Dix made me wonder if the faces of the men depicted as skeletons were etched this way, because to give them faces would be unbearable.
“Art is exorcism. I paint dreams and visions too; the dreams and visions of my time. Painting is the effort to produce order; order in yourself. There is much chaos in me, much chaos in our time.” (Dix, 8/2/2015, online)
L S Lowry
Not an artist I liked until recent years. I now live in the heart of Mill country and have met many people who were part of mill life, or had parents that were. Their descriptions of life at the mill bring the paintings alive for me. Having said that, I have for this exercise looked at a drawing of Lowry’s, this one in particular stands out for me.
It is a Lancashire street scene portraying an alley in Pendlebury. Lowry is able to portray the sense of poverty, filth and hardship, with the promise and life the Mills would provide. His use of dark pencil marks, sharp angles and multi directional lines in the foreground are the setting, and the clouds of smoke frame the scene in a smooth but atmospheric way, enveloping the area like a cloaking embrace, the heavy lines and changing marks of the buildings suggesting living in the embrace of these mills gave life, food and lodgings but it came with hardship and grime. The scene itself is looks simple, but by it composition and use of mark making, cleverly draws the mind to the atmosphere and emotion not the just the subject of the picture, which is essentially a street scene of the time. The whole composition of the picture seems to be a snapshot of how it felt to be living within the clutches of the Mill. Your eye starts with the collection of faceless people dressed against the cold in working class attire, then to the tired and dirty looking building with the sagging, uncared for roof. Then the viewer is drawn along the alley into the Industrial buildings faintly depicted behind, giving the picture depth, the Mill standing like a giant guardian, overseeing its young in a smoky embrace.
Until looking at Lowry’s paintings and drawing in detail, I had never particularly enjoyed his work, however my view has changed. I now feel he was very clever in his ability as an artist, to convey to the viewer the emotions, atmosphere and feelings, he and his subjects felt at the time that particular piece of artwork was created.
Dix, O. (2015, February 8). The Art Story.org. Retrieved from http://www.theartstory.org/artist-dix-otto.htm#