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Monday, July 14, 2014

Andrew Wyeth Exhibition: Windows

Wind From the Sea
National Gallery of Art 最近在展出 Wyeth 作品。前些年在费城的时候看过很全的 Wyeth 作品展,但是记忆中仿佛没这次这么震撼,也不知是因为年纪和心情不同了呢,还是因为题材不同。Wyeth 的画至少有两类,有人的和没人的。这次展出的全是没人的,而且仅限于含“窗”元素的画。基本上他的所有的无人画都非常特别,有人的画反而没那么强烈的意向和震撼。除了窗子之外,他常常画挂在那里的衣服(尤其是大衣和睡衣),扔在那里的靴子,旧的,有历史的,既暗示了人,但又点明人的“不在”。

这次展出的画很多是他在邻居好友 Olson 姐弟俩的农场取材,农场和农屋相当破败,画中有很多油漆剥落的窗框和门板,快要散架的家具,破成一条一条的窗帘,之类的物件。色调大多很暗淡,少数画相对明亮,但是总体感觉很悲凉。总之,让我联想到的都是 shadows, death, decay 这里的词儿。

展览的文字介绍说,Wyeth 被艺术评论家定性为过气的写实派。美国画家仿佛玩抽象有点力不从心,除了 Jackson Pollock ,其他有名的抽象画家基本都是欧洲移民。有点影响的美国现代画家都是在写实上另找出路。Roy Lichtenstein 玩漫画,Andy Warhol 玩照片/名人,Edward Hopper 看着象杂志插图。不是说他们不好或不够高级,而是指出他们都选择了非抽象的道路。

Wyeth 也是通过写实主义打通了另一条路。他说自己的画表面上是实物,实际上是结构和线条。从这个角度来看就可以发现他的画的结构常常跟 landscape 或者静物画的传统不太一样,切入的角度不太传统,直线条远远多过弧线,而且常常使用门或窗代表的框架切割画面。

By presenting a sort of intermediate form between realism and abstract, he seems to make an argument about why abstract arm works on people. In the meaningless and unrecognizable lines and shapes and colors we recognize faces, objects, animals, and other familiar items. It really would be meaningless if our human brain is incapable of seeing a face in the cloud or a dancing man in a piece of root. Abstraction works only because it suggests something real and remembered in our mind. So here it is.

And then he goes one step further. His semi-real world/semi-abstraction hit me with a visceral force more violent than either realism or abstraction, and my gut reactions were primarily dark and frosty, such as sadness, loss, apprehension, mystery, and a vague horror. It seems to argue that seeing a human face or a scene of human action on the canvas is as distancing and safe as seeing lines and shapes and blocks of color. Somehow the imagination is most tickled when you suggest but do not show the presence of people. Perhaps it's his experimentation with the power of suggestion. The effect is eerily powerful.

Wyeth's vision has been unrecognized and misunderstood by critics, perhaps because of his choice to stay rural, away from New York City and from self-promotion.

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