These Mythic Art creations take their inspiration from the realistic paintings of the old masters just as the film West Side Story came from Shakespeare's play Romeo and Juliet, who in turn copied it from Pyramus and Thisbe, from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Our shared cultural heritage, great works of art, literature, music and drama, cinema, folk tales and fairy tales are all drawn upon again and again by the creators of new works.
In quantum physics one meter is also one meter, but the elimination of distance, or the approximation or acceptance of something, changes that object or at least contains a wider spectrum of interpretative possibilities, so that the comparative of focused concretization is a well facetted ambiguity in the sense of quantum physics.
Nigel Van Wieck's works function in a similar manner. On first glance we seem to see just what we Essay on representation of women in art. The realistic pictures reveal for us a view of people on a beach, or at work, or involved in recreational activities, or in their domestic surroundings, or in public places.
However, as we approach them they lose their unequivocal nature and one begins to ask oneself what is it that we see, or much more if this is everything we see? The fact that the artist is actually English is not apparent, in the least not in his works.
They recall too much the works of American Realist artists, with whom he came in contact with after moving to America. But even stronger was his fascination with the work of Edward Hopper, whose art he thought was exemplary and in whom he perceived a kindred spirit. The comparison between the oeuvre of Hopper and Van Wieck has understandably often been drawn.
In fact there are numerous parallels between Hopper's often isolated and introverted figures who are caught in an urban tristesse and the equally singular figures in Van Wieck's work. Moreover, the artists are united in their frequent depiction of empty places, in their clear compositional structure and in a fascination with sharp light and shadow effects.
But Van Wieck's pictures seem more optimistic, his protagonists are, in spite of their isolation, less melancholy than Hopper's protagonists. Although figures such as the young woman who looks dreamily out to sea in Van Wieck's Here Comes Tomorrow are characterized by a strange melancholy, her momentary loneliness is voluntary and not ordained by society, nor indeed caused by herself.
Characteristically, the figures in his works do not seem to be so inextricably caught up in their situation as in Hopper's, but are merely caught at a specific moment in time.
Thus, the central objective of his art is not to dissect American society, but to create subtle snapshots of the "American way of Life", whose sense of distance and lack of movement make them seem all the more penetrating. What is exciting about the pictures is the indefiniteness of the narrative context, the puzzle as to what came before and after each painted moment.
This lack of articulation in the holding up of time gives the works a cinematographic quality and makes their nearness to cinema more than clear. In this respect Sunday Evening is one of the most exciting pictures, as it draws our attention above all because of its viewer's perspective: While we observe a boy in the former who is about to climb the wall of a cemetery in bright sunlight, in the latter there is a night scene illuminated by a street lamp where a women with a dog on a leash enters the beam of light.
As if we were located in one of the surrounding houses, we gaze down at the street scene and become secret observers of the event. But it is not as if we actually saw something we were not supposed to see - this is not a voyeuristic view of something forbidden, disreputable or perverse.
On the contrary, it is ordinariness that we gaze on as viewers in Van Wieck's works: This stems on the one hand from a lack of narrative attributes already noted, which allows space for interpretation, and on the other from the formal compositional design.
With the help of interesting angles of view, their seemingly spontaneous selection and the overlapping of motifs - all of which are reminiscent of the French Impressionists - the artist introduces his subjects into the scene.
As a result, what are in part central motifs are pushed aside, whilst other seemingly less significant objects are given a - in the literal sense of the word - dominant presence. In Catch the day the probably in reality rather prosaic architecture becomes a massive, monumental architectural object that launches itself with its wooden planks into the picture like a ship's bow.
The strolling couple to the left of the picture - actually the picture's main subject - serves almost entirely only to make the dimensions clear, like a dimensional study, whereby the bright red dress of the woman also introduces a coloristic accent.
It is in a work like this that the artist's coloristic virtuosity becomes apparent, which he employs with a multitude of iridescent color nuances to conjure up a sunny sky, bright sunlit strands or cool architecture before our eyes. Nigel Van Wieck, who was born in the Unitied Kingdom in Bexley, Kent, in and received his training at the Hornsey College of Art in London, which alongside the Royal Academy of Arts is one of the most reputable institutes of art in the English capital and which served as a spring board for numerous other successful artists such as Richard Wentworth or Anish Kapoor.
After initial artistic works, which were in the area of figurative art, the artist soon turned to the Kinetic Art. Eventually, enlarging the mechanical movement by an aspect, he began to experiment with light, particularly neon light, which he exploited as an artistic medium.
Turning from light art in the sense of light as an artistic medium meant, however, by no means a turning away from his intensive study of this phenomenon of light. Rather, Van Wieck began to study the compositional use of light in the works of the Old Masters and to gather inspiration for his own paintings.
The artist cites the Dutch painter Jan Vermeer in particular as one of his great role models. No wonder then that Vermeer's painting not only stands out for its attention to detail but also because of its subtle use of lighting which accentuates important compositional elements and hence helps enunciate the narrative and guide interpretation.
Influenced by these past masters, the contrasting play of light and shade plays a leading role in many of Van Wieck's pictures.
Here it does not matter whether its is a night piece like Bellevue Avenue or Summer Song, or where the scenes depicted on the basis of back light allow for strong chiaroscuro contrasts such as in the case of The Leaf Blower or Sunday Call. Light is used as a gleaming carpet especially often - as in Places - that spreads over the entire picture.
The shining bright sunlight in the works contributes to our positive and pleasant impression of the pictures. Nevertheless, because of this at first glance so undetermined atmosphere it also leaves an indefinite feeling of restlessness and evokes perplexity particularly through the representation of a seemingly perfect world.
This ambivalence is what gives these pictures their added tension and lifts them above their trivial ordinariness.
As in his earlier works, Van Wieck also swings in Places between a merely hinted at representation of people, in which the features and body form of his figures are summarily indicated, and concrete physiognomic description.
However, neither are Van Wieck's figures conceived as portraits, nor are they interchangeable stereotypes. The protagonists who are not clearly indicated in their physiognomic presence rather offer a surface of identification for the viewers themselves.Women, Art, and Art History: Gender and Feminist Analyses by Griselda Pollock.
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