Religious themes, formal portraits, and the re-telling of historical and mythical events epitomize classical art. "Epic" challenges the artist to interpret these themes for the 21st century viewer. Artists should depict the modern equivalent of classic subjects and settings using classic techniques and motifs or depict classic themes and motifs using modern mediums and styles. What ever approach the artist chooses to take,the classic and the modern should be incorporated in a manner that represents and honors both. This should also be reflected in the artist's statement.
In my mind the word "Classical" when referring to an artistic style covers allot of territory. Pre 19th century focusing on Europe, mostly Roman and French with the emergence of America in the 18th century and as early as 14th century is what I have considered for this review. This would include styles such as The Renaissance, Mannerism, Baroque, Rococo and finally Neoclassicism. For you the artist to articulate this diverse visual language into a "modern" day interpretation is the dynamic challenge. Basically, to compare the period differences, we would want to point out what mostly has changed. As artists, the materials we currently have the opportunity to work with seems to me to be the most substantial difference. A ponderous notion: what would Michelangelo do with a computer and how that would change his art? Stylistic elements of "classical" art where the presence of human condition, church or "spiritual" influences in the depiction of everyday life. The palette subdued, jeweled and occasional gilded. So it was with these thoughts in mind I carefully reviewed the works before me. There were several entries which to be of good technique and well done portraits. However, I did not feel they captured the spirit of this contest in depicting the modern equivalent of classic subjects and settings. Here are the three entries (not necessary in any particular order) that came the closest to this concept and why.
1) "The Consolation of Mary Magdalene" by john christopher borrero
This piece I choose because of its obvious religious story overtones but expressed in a very contemporary method of mixed media and found objects. What communicates the mood in this piece for me is the color choices juxtaposed with the textures of the found objects. The fragile almost teetering skyscraper-proportion crosses towering over, humbling and giving reference to the higher power vs. the humanity of the figures below. This fuses the religious emotion of the classical from the Italian early Renaissance imagery with a very modern technique. I do wish that the "detail" pictures where better here however.
2) "Cave Canem: Beware of Dog" by Jenny Doss
It was very helpful to me for this artist to include the image of her inspiration. I choose this piece because of the well executed "Pop Art" presentation offering a thoroughly contemporary translation of a "classic" work. This is further conveyed by the color decisions, limited primary palette and the stark contrast between the figure and background. The slight glow of the white around the dog electrifies it enhancing the feeling of motion even further. In the original this is done more with the pose of the animal than with color which is very neutral and directly opposite in nature from this modern interpretation.
3) "The Fall of Atlantis" by Jasmine Ann Becket-Griffith
In this piece the artist constructed a painting that expresses an emotional mood with tones of color and the articulation of the human expression. It was interesting to read the artist own interpretation of the "story". However, I was not able to make the "Atlantis" reference without that explanation. The challis gives some slight religious reference but is rather mystical in nature making it less iconic and more new age in feel. The presence of the Roman columns gave a classical feel but that is not why I choose this piece for this exhibition. It was for the depiction of human emotion of the figure, which was reinforced in the tonal development of the background with the ominous quality of the clouds, creating a moodiness that tells a story to be carried out in the imagination of the individual viewer.
Donna Soto is a successful artist and gallery owner. She studied painting at Parson School of Art & Design and ceramics at Pratt Institute in New York City, where she later served on the faculty. In 1990, Ms. Soto opened Dogwood Pottery Studio in Chapel Hill, NC and in 1998, the Green Tara Gallery . She has been published in The Ceramic Glaze Handbook By Mark Burleson and speaks on collecting art. Donna Soto currently resides in the coastal community of Wilmington, NC where she has her current gallery - Art, etc. and her ceramics studio.
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