Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Unexpected Beauty

Every now and then, when things are feeling a little scratchy and metallic: when there's ice on the wind, something appears out of nowhere to remind you of beauty. This is a little how I feel about stumbling over this picture in an out-of-the-way folder on my computer.
Tripping through the paintings of Jamie Wyeth on his website is not so much like looking at pictures as it is like visiting a place. And in this place, the sunlight is always clear, the breeze is strong and salted and the birds, animals and people are contemplative.
I can't offer a 'reading' of the picture above in any formal sense, I can say that it bears more than a cursory glance. It is full of questions which can only really be resolved by the creation of a personal and complete story in the imagination. The boy is wet, and sunburned on his arms, used to the open air and yet he is indoors and naked. The strength of his upright back - and indeed the strong cross in the composition are somewhat at odds with the vulnerability of his very thin limbs and the huge adolescent feet (like the oversize paws of a young dog). The contrast is there also between the intense and glistening colours of his living skin and the dry bone of the whale jaw: a dead thing. His lightness and the weighy mass of the bone are another contrast which is only resolved by the composition of a cross. Is he being eaten? Sacrificed? There is something so very mythic about this picture, which, I suppose is why it calls me back and back again.
Every one of Wyeth's pictures holds almost as much depth and those below are just a few favourites.
PS. robscoble, 'Snub' is a fantastic name, so very Edwardian, and R has already poked fun at his nose! The last below is, of course, for you.

1 comment:

John C said...

Amazing stuff. I'd not seen any of these pictures before but then it's mainly NC Wyeth's work that I know, not the subsequent generations.

Who links to my website?