Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Dee Sanchez: Clouds Over Taos



The protagonist of this piece is color, while lines, this time in their usual subdued role, are the foil. Due to various effects, palette that could seem overabundant, demonstrates a tasteful, and even austere mix. First, the hot yellow and red in the foreground are counteracted by the cool blue and brown in the background. Second, there is a linear opposition: the hills, which expand horizontally, weigh down the verticals of the bushes. And third, most of the colors concentrate in the lower half of the canvas, the top being almost all white, -- neutral and relaxing. These inner contrasts leave their mark on the observer, making viewing the painting a rather intense experience. Perhaps not intentionally so, but the multiplicity and the versatility of painterly effects burdens this piece with meaningful aesthetic tension.

The motif of levels and steps is continued here: the heads of the bushes form a ladder, as well as the hill lines in the background. It is interesting to notice how elements of individual style recur in what might seem like a completely different painting. The bushes also form a fence, not unlike the one in "Night Suns;" the two farthest hills are red and blue in both paintings and all of the yellows appear in the foreground. Yet these two pieces are entirely different. This is the sign of a master who is in control of her craft: when particular elements reappear in completely different works of art, making it evident that they came out from under the same brush.

However, determining the formal style of this painting may prove to be more difficult. The growth seems distinctly impressionistic, but the hills are quieter than that, and their color may be misleading. Perhaps they are more post-impressionistic, carrying some expressionistic elements -- an improbable combination that works, -- which may lead one to question the benefits of the style-determining practice in the first place. Often, too many specific words will only obscure the actual affect. Instead, the best way to understand and enjoy this piece is simply to move from one step to another, exploring the colors and how they interact. The artist made sure that the viewer will be kept busy for quite some time.

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