Friday, June 21, 2013

Interpretation of Art

I have never been one for painting. I enjoy words more than brush strokes and I enjoy sound more than colour. Paintings have never touched me or moved me as deeply and as effortlessly as a good literary piece. Do not mistake me, I do occasionally see an awe-inspiring painting or sculpture, only, those instances are rare. So I decided to write about just two paintings of the most recent paintings I've seen that really appealed to me.

The Fisherman and the Syren - Lord Frederic Leighton
To the left is a piece entitled 'The Fisherman and the Syren' by Lord Frederic Leighton, a nineteenth-century English artist.

I could easily write an essay on each aspect of this painting. The way he has posed the siren, exposing the sensual allure of the female form. It helps that he has also distinguished her by deciding to paint her with bright colours, she will almost certainly be the first thing you see when you glance at this painting. I also admire the way he chose to depict her grasp on the fisherman. Her dark tail, is so subtly coiled around his legs you fail to notice it as you expect he would. Sirens (or mermaids, if you prefer) are mythical creatures infamous for their tendency to drown sailors at sea or any man who failed to resist their seduction. Something that can be seen in this painting as you examine the gentility of his expression implying that he desires only to surrender, or his open arms with hands dangling from the rocks, having dropped his basket of fish. No effort is made to pull himself back so one can safely assume he has given in her to power. It is made clearer what her intentions are as you examine the background. We find they are behind a multitude of rocks on the shore, far from anyone else, hidden away in seclusion. The perfect place for a predator to take its prey. So we see this fair maiden with long golden locks and soft smooth flesh, is truly a malevolent hunter. I admire this painting because it depicts the entire situation with such a gentle tone, aspects glow hauntingly as opposed to being forced into sight.

Butterfly Ship - Salvador Dali
The painting to the right is entitled 'Butterfly Ship' by Salvador Dali, a Spanish artist famous for his many surrealist works.

This painting appeals to me through the general elegance of its concept. Butterflies, all over the world, symbolize something sacred. In some places they symbolize love, they might symbolize the soul or the mind or innocence. Either way, it is sacred and in this painting they are bound to the ship, presumably allowing the ship to move independently from the wind, without fear of sinking by clinging to innocent things. One could presume a similar notion with the dark figures in the corner, trying to capture smaller butterflies clearly beyond their reach.

Of course, I do not expect everyone to agree with my opinions and the meanings I received from their works. Obviously, as with any and all forms of art, it is open to interpretation. These are merely mine. But tell me what you felt, if anything, from looking at these pieces. Did you find something else? Something more meaningful perhaps? I am very interested in knowing.