"I want to turn this into something more beautiful," I thought. I needed guidance. I needed an open space to find myself and reflect onward onto the canvas. This semester I decided I wanted to get serious. I took the initiative and jumped into action. Two weeks ago, I officially immersed myself in my first painting class.
My professor called everyone over to his table and placed a series of photographs on it. They were photos taken in the 1920s of Parisian slums. He instructed us to choose one and said that they would work well with our project. Our assignment was to create a monochromatic palette by using tones of three colors. The last part of our project included integrating white into the mix.
When it came time for me to choose a photo, I picked one from a different perspective. I could have selected a photograph with clothes hanging from a rod, with a woman looking into a window, of one that displayed a broken window panel, but I did not. I connected to one that was blurry, ambiguous, and uncanny, and perhaps the photographer made a beautiful mistake in disguise. And to me, the challenge to figure out its meaning is what made it the most rewarding.
He called it contemporary.. it was a shift in the parallelism between light and dark.
When my work was completed, my professor came over to my easel. We stepped back and viewed the piece. He made his left hand into a fist, shut his right eye, and raised his arm. He shook his head up and down, with confidence. He asked, “do you consider your work contemporary?” Without giving me time to answer, he walked up to my painting and pointed out something powerful. On the bottom of the canvas laid two congruent and contrasting motions of paint — the left, black on light, and the right, white on dark. I raised my eyebrows and widened my eyes.
I was shocked that I did not notice such bold marks. They were completely unintentional, yet their placement gave such a strong message. There was, in fact, an elegance to their flow. I told my instructor that I was painting what I saw in the original photograph, translating from print to canvas. Perhaps there is an underlying wholeness between two contrasts. The points altered the dynamic and set a tone for the rest of the piece, and in a way, it serves as a message of unity. Although two things - substances, thoughts, feelings - may be contrasting on the outside, are they? We were so caught up in identifying their meaning that his main question continued to lingered and was left unanswered...
"There is something special about the beauty in the unclear, the ambiguity, the in-between that you can't totally recognize."- Alessandro Michele