Art Criticism: Boon or Bane? (Conclusion)

Manila Bulletin, January 30, 2012 | Go to article overview

Art Criticism: Boon or Bane? (Conclusion)


MANILA, Philippines - Eighth, holistic. This paradigm synthesizes all the pictorial and tactile units including all the above paradigms save feminism into an organized and significant whoIe.

Central in this paradigm is the artwork, the artistic alpha and omega in art criticism. The artist who created the art-piece sourced the content/substance of his art from reality either concrete or abstract, within a particular time-calendar, historical, cultural, socio-political. The percipient-sentient, otherwise known as audience composed of UNI (You and I), will get to know about a particular reality at a given time, and beyond through the artwork.

The following portions of critiques are some examples:

Linda Murray in Michelangelo, noted: "David represented the essence of civic virtue-courage, fortitude, faith- Stylistically, it is- a new statement of an old theme, given a new monumentality."

Murray, however, said nothing about the leftward gaze of David: that this is a recognition that Goliath personified evil. In Mt. 25: 32-33, it says: "All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people from one another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left." Put simply, right is for righteousness, as left is for lefteousness.

Goya's 'The Execution, May 3, 1808' is a clear indictment on any State inebriated by its power. Craven in A Treasury of Art Masterpieces, declared: "In the spring of 1808, (Goya) was living in Madrid in the Puerta del Sol when Napoleon's namelukes (in Muslim countries, male slaves-pbz), under Murat, marched into the city. It was the second of May; the nobility stayed within doors and covered their heads, but the loyalists, the people, practically unarmed, resisted the invaders. The next day the bloody reprisals began and the populace was slaughtered at the city gate. Goya painted the massacre-with a spoon, it is said-and bequeathed to mankind, not the most tragic or the most touching commentary, but the most frightening curse ever uttered against the universal evil: a night scene with a ragged group frozen with the fears of sudden death; men with their hands sticking up; men hiding their faces; men clenching their fists; dead bodies in pools of blood-impotent civilians before a firing squad".

The critic-editor ended his incisive critique with this challenge: "A reproduction of this picture, in color, should be hung in the council chambers of the war lords of all nations".

In 'Guernica', Picasso sourced his subject from a concrete and historical, if brutal reality, namely the bombing of a Basque town, Guernica, during the Spanish civil war in 1937. Curiously, in this civil war, Germany and Italy supported Franco's rebel forces against the Loyalists who were aided by Russia. Who knows, these foreign countries might have contributed to the carnage that ensued. The pictorial units-men, women, children, ghosts, bull, horse, bird, tongues of fire, sword, ceiling bulb, gas lamp, swing door-are cut up into sharp-edged geometric shapes, with generally pointed corners.

The woman at the left writhes in extreme pain, the parts of her body brutally dismembered, but still nurses her baby. Message: Let not war deny a baby 'of life's nourishment. A soldier lies near the left bottom corner, but his right arm, detached from his body, still clutches his broken sword firmly: the symbol of his power and authority. The bull, symbol of aggression, snorts its last, just as the horse, measure of power and speed, neighs its last.

Picasso used off-white, gray and black-all deathly colors. …

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