Friday, September 14, 2007

Dee Sanchez: Night Church


The warm and nightly atmosphere, along with other elements, is being channeled towards the specific purpose of inducing a positive religious sentiment. The growth around the building cushions it protectively, in a somewhat familial manner; this allegory may serve to remind viewers that going to church can be a unifying family occasion, and that feeling cozy is welcome. This painting conveys a sense of many people being around without actually showing anybody; it almost feels crowded -- yet not a single person is depicted. I think this an achievement of a more of a psychological and universal rather than artistic kind. This piece is occupied with people who are to be imagined by the viewer; it is as if the artist intends the scene to be personalized by the observer, adding characters from their own community.

The color of the church reflects its conceptions aptly: it glows, through value differences, and creates a mysterious air of wonder and anticipation. Specifically, there are two main colors; red, the color of blood and wine, and white, the color of bread. There are three white areas, all of which can serve as a focal point. Perhaps they can be merged into one; roughly, they are all positioned on the same axis -- a single ascending line. The cross at the pinnacle dominates the stars and the dark skies, reminding of several Christian principles at once. In a way, the cross links the earth, through the church, with the heavens, serving as a kind of a conduit -- a pictorial representation of one of the central notions of Christianity.

I like how the artist defines space here: the church is placed on a lofty, but not imposing position. On the one hand, it assumes a kind of reverence and self-sufficiency, while on the other it lures the observer to walk on that path and enter -- a symbolic process rendered through a particular depiction of space. The hills in the background provide rhythmic support and depth. The usual linear device is almost exclusively dedicated to the vegetation. I chose the word "usual" (as it is anything but) because one becomes accustomed to these lines and starts to see beyond them; here, eventually, they become invisible, imperceptibly helping to visualize random growth.

For me, they are no longer a curiosity... but an established device with specific instructive effects -- paradoxically, one needs to "ignore" them in order to figure out their purpose. This peculiarity reminds me of visual riddles, where the guesser needs to defocus while looking at a sheet of paper, in order to make out the shape hidden between the repetitive patterns printed on that sheet. Correspondingly, the artist may be toying with the traditional roles, establishing herself as the riddler, and us, the viewers, as the guessers. Personally, I don't mind being on the uninitiated side -- I like riddles, and painted ones especially.

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