What gives a piece of art its energy? What makes it engaging to you as a viewer?
Last week I watched an excellent interview with children's author/illustrator, Chris van Allsburg, a long time favorite of mine. He mentions the idea of "cognitive dissonance" as an important aspect of his work. Cognitive Dissonance is a psychological theory which basically states that feelings and thoughts in conflict cause action which resolves them and returns an individual to a state of equilibrium. This same concept is often used in visual art to set up some form of tension or dynamic interest that forges a connection between the work and viewer. This visual tension energizes the art and makes it engaging...imbuing the piece with the "vital energy" the artist intends.
Rene Magritte "Time Transfixed" 1938
John Singer Sargent "The Chess Game" 1907
Michael Parkes "The Juggler"
"Destiny's Angel" Digital
As I thought about van Allsburg's work I realized that I am drawn to art that explores these concepts and I use the same principles in my own work; Leonardo DaVinci wings on an astronaut, soft, feminine forms set against machinery, organic, natural forms such as a fox skull set against industrial textures or technical diagrams. My aluminum work explores the idea of visual tension and energy in a different way. This work relies more on dynamic surface qualities of the metal as an industrial material juxtaposed with natural forms such as stones, clouds, dragonflies, etc. I enjoy using a "tromp lo'eil" approach with these pieces to further enhance the illusion and sense of tension. Again, the conflict between the natural and the industrial, the realism and illusion provide the work with the interest and vital energy I enjoy sharing...and I hope others find engaging.
"Ritual" Acrylic on Aluminum