Sunday, August 19, 2007

Craig Stephens: Candle #2


I think that this piece can be viewed in terms of Yin and Yang, visually as well as conceptually. There are two major areas of contrasting colors, while each one is blemished by the other -- the black wick deep inside the candle and the white spots on the nightly background. Darkness and light, both drawing meaning from each other, they are interdependent, constantly negotiating with each other. It is difficult to avoid simplification and cliche but, for once, we are indeed confronted by a strong black and white image. What is interesting in the above comparison is how Western tradition may be demonstrated not to be that different, in its core, from the Eastern.

This candle ignites a sense of delicate intimacy and warmth, as the soft yellow and white ward off the enclosing darkness. But the intimacy is rather abstract, as we don't know the purpose for which the candle was lit; it travels to the closest subject capable of carrying it -- the viewer -- thus inspiring introspection and self-reflection. In a way, the candle on this canvas sheds light on the observer, and, in a rather complimenting fashion: personally, I get a positive sensation of harmony and self-acceptance. We all have our demons, but this small light does its best to deter and mollify them.

The melted wax is visual treat: an exquisite lateral ballast that exemplifies how laws nature often make the most compelling creations. It is reminiscent of a Gaudi bench; which makes me wonder about the source of his inspiration. It is known that architects (as well as painters) sculpture their models with wax -- perhaps the bench was a chance discovery by the esteemed architect. In similar tone, the whole inside of the candle resembles an amphitheater. Translucency once again becomes a motif; this time, however, the culprit is in the center of our attention. Perhaps, in a kind of tribute, the artist depicts light in one of its purest forms. If one allows for it, the effect can be quite cleansing.

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