iconographics

When they’d gone, Lady Sybil sat for a while staring at her hands.
(…) In many ways, she told herself, she was very lucky. She was very proud of Sam. He worked hard for a lot of people. He cared about people who weren’t important. He always had far more to cope with than was good for him. He was the most civilized man she’d ever met. Not a gentleman, thank goodness, but a gentle man.
She never really knew what it was he did. (…) He tended to drop his clothes into the laundry basket before he eventually came to bed, so she’d only hear later from the laundry girl about the bloodstains and the mud.
(…) There was a Sam Vimes she knew, who went out and came home again, and out there was another Sam Vimes who hardly belonged to her and lived in the same world as all those men with the dreadful names…
Sybil Ramkin had been brought up to be thrifty, thoughtful, genteel in an outdoor sort of way, and to think kindly of people.
She looked at the pictures again, in the silence of the house.
Then she blew her nose loudly and went off to do the packing and other sensible things.
—  From The Fifth Elephant.
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Sandra Chevrier’s “The Cages; And the Reading Rooms of their Lives” at Thinkspace Gallery.

Opening on Saturday, October 15th, 2016 at Thinkspace Gallery in Culver City, California is artist Sandra Chevrier’s solo exhibition entitled “The Cages; And the Reading Rooms of their Lives.”

From Thinkspace Gallery:  Chevrier creates mixed media works that combine sensuously rendered portraits of women with painted and collaged comic book overlays of superheroes. Manifold graphic segments and tear aways are used to obscure the facial features and bodies of her subjects partially. These iconographic images of conflict and struggle are posted over the contours of the flesh to create endlessly nuanced combinations, both heroic and dystopian in their allusions. Chevrier creates beautifully strange alloys of body and print to convey a personal terrain beset by social conflict. 

In the artist’s Cages series, the vulnerable and human is offset by images of the superhero in varying situations of compromise, fragility, and struggle. The collision of identities both imperfect and paladin, suggests a conflicted and difficult vision of femininity; one colonized by competing ideals and expectations. Plastered both literally and figuratively with an illustrative veneer of superhuman archetypes and ideals, at times themselves in a state of injury or defect, Chevrier’s women become embattled vessels containing a host of incongruous roles. Her paintings are visually moody and dark, in spite of the primary colors and illustrative pictorials, and convey a depth and discomfort that resonates.

Chevrier creates what she refers to as “masks” and “cages” from these comic book excerpts, exploring both the external dictates and self-imposed restrictions to which the feminine is subject. Her confine metaphor of scripted identity problematizes the reductive social roles ascribed to women. Chevrier works with a combination of acrylic, watercolor, graphite, china ink, pastels, and collage to create complex sequences of imagery. Each portrait is developed intuitively and offers a simultaneity of scripts: heroism and weakness, beauty and imperfection, order and chaos, revelation and withholding. Chevrier is interested in the flaws in these narratives and seeks comic book references that capture moments of vulnerability and contention: failures in the hero and chinks in his otherwise unassailable armor. 

A constant dance takes place in these works. Fiction bleeds in and out of reality, and several competing narratives obscure the identity of the subject. Ultimately, the imaginary and the real are equally unreliable in their deceptions and Chevrier’s portraits capture the multidimensional mire of this human fraudulence. The constant pressure to perform clearly defined roles is at odds with our true nature: we are all heroes and villains, successes and failures. Each face, each body and each self is a patchwork of conflicting stories.

The Cages” will be on display until November 5th, 2016.

Iconography in Mexico’s day of the dead: Origins and meaning

This article analyzes the origin and meaning of artistic representations of death-principally skulls and skeletons-in Mexico’s Day of the Dead. It challenges stereotypes of the death obsessed Mexican by tracing mortuary imagery in the Day of the Dead to Two separate artistic developments, the first deriving from religious and demographic imperatives of colonial times, the second from nineteenth-century politics and journalism. Now generally perceived as belonging to a single, undifferentiated iconographic tradition, cranial and skeletal images of death have become virtually synonymous with Mexico itself.

Brandes, Stanley. “Iconography in Mexico’s day of the dead: Origins and meaning.” Ethnohistory (1998): 181-218.

https://escholarship.org/uc/item/2tt3663j


I was interested in learning the origins of Day of the Dead imagery and went hunting for some sources. Hope you find this article as interesting as I did.

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“[Fame] creates a splitting of the self. Jackie obviously had it on a much larger scale than I do, but it was something I could see in her and empathize with—that there’s this idea of how other people see you, there’s who you really are, there’s who you want other people to think you are, there’s how you think you’re supposed to be. This film was an exploration of someone who is so well known, and yet so two-dimensional in the way we know her, iconographically. We don’t consider her humanity. Now we see that she really took her identity as her husband’s wife and was creating his legacy. She was already saying ‘I’m going to be the author of this story—not a journalist, not a historian.’ It’s so modern: It’s what everyone does now, showing the public what they want them to see.” - Natalie Portman for DuJour Magazine

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Zeng Chuanxing was born in 1974 in Longchang County, Sichuan Province. Just as many of his fellow Chinese artists, Chuan Xing Zeng adheres to a philosophy of art for a purpose.

His work is heavily endowed with the larger cultural issues at stake in modern-day (Chinese) life, yet remains steeped in a Western art tradition. Reliant on iconographical metaphors and a traditional concept of representation, his series of Paper Brides comments on the fragility of marriage and female identity in contemporary Chinese culture.

His brides, dressed in delicate paper gowns, alternatively dressed in either white or red (white the traditional colour of a Western bride, red that of the Chinese) highlight the vulnerability of the once unbreakable bond that the wedding vow created. His work embodies the very best of the cross-cultural artistic relationship that exists between the East and the West.

                                              :-)

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Susan Kare, Macintosh Icons, 1984. Apple Computer Inc. USA

Kare’s trash can, folders, smiley Mac, command button symbol and other icons are reduced to just a few pixels (32 x 32) yet they remain recognizable. Her  influence on the look and feel of the graphical user interface extended to the appearance of the windows, drop down menus, dialogue boxes and fonts. All these elements were as crucial, influential and memorable in the success of the Macintosh system as any of the engineering and product design feats accomplished by the Macintosh design team. Exhibition Interface, Powerhouse Museum Sydney

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Italian artist Agostino Arrivabene paints an iconographic universe that exists somewhere at the division between the real world from the spiritual realm. Previously featured here on our blog, his works include landscapes, portraits, and large paintings allegorical and apocalyptic in nature. Subjects of his paintings often appear as if from another time and place, celestial bodies and nudes emerging from the earth that recall the figures of those who influence him, particularly Gustave Moreau and Odd Nerdrum. Arrivabene describes his personal world as one that is eclectic and occult, where his artistic lanuage changes depending on his life experience. His upcoming solo exhibition at Cara Gallery in New York, “Hierogamy”, delves into mythological themes and ideas about personal intimacy, change, and time. 

See more on Hi-Fructose.

What does this depiction signify? 

Shown is a 6th century mosaic found in Madaba, Jordan. Here I will provide 3, quick lines of thought in relation to such depictions, largely following the scholarship of art historian Kristin Aavitsland (2012). 

One symbolic meaning for the birdcage iconographic imagery comes from the classical world, where the bird may be viewed as a metaphor for the human soul. Neo-Platonists and Stoics (such as Porphyry, Seneca) paralleled the birdcage to human life on earth: the soul (like the bird) yearns for its freedom, wishing to return to its heavenly origin (this is achieved by death). The soul is confined within the body, like a bird in a cage.

We occasionally see a similar use of the image of the caged bird in the Jewish tradition. The interpretation of this differs, here it can given a more positive meaning: the cage being viewed as protection rather than a confining prison. The secure cage protects those inside from the dangers of the outside world. Thus, the bird within the cage can here be viewed as a metaphor for the chosen people of God, who are proceeded by the Lord.

Alluding to both classical and Jewish texts, a similar image is again found in the Judaeo-Christian tradition. For example: “We have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped” (Psalm 124). Here the image is used as a metaphor for deliverance, and the completeness of this deliverance is portrayed not only by merely escaping, but in that the danger itself is destroyed (the snare is broken).

Photo taken by Ken and Nyetta.

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Various painted icons of Christ in the catalog of St. Elisabeth Convent.

Find more here: http://catalog.obitel-minsk.com/icons-p…/painted-icons.html…