Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Neil Hollingsworth: Bulb Vase no. 2

This is a very ironic image -- breakable objects inside a breakable object. The theme by itself seems rather contrived, as it is difficult to imagine someone actually storing light bulbs inside a vase but, the irony redeems it. There is something theatrical about this display, or perhaps something acrobatic. These bulbs pile up similarly to circus performances where athletes load themselves with improbable amount of weights. The only difference is that this scene appears to be more stable, and no foreboding drumming is heard; it may be seen, however, symbolically, in the heap of glass, which by itself may signify the moment of peril -- that may last much longer than a single circus act. There is no visible breaking point, but the sheer amount of fragile material forms one such mentally, in the viewers' perception.

The scrutiny of light effects also falls under the aegis of irony: natural light illuminating light bulbs... that's got to be funny -- and it is. Still, there are some fascinating refractions to be examined here, particularly at the vase' bottom. A rich concentration of white lines and seemingly random blots demonstrate how thick glass can distort light, and, make it the center of attention, despite the fact that the event takes place quite far from the center. The highest positioned bulb reflects what appears to be the hint of a window frame, an interesting detail. Since the background remains decidedly black, one can imagine the space as an attic, with a small fortochka (I was amazed to find that word in the dictionary!) for an opening. Thus, one thing leads to another, and viewers gradually discover more about the surroundings.

Rhythmically, this is a balanced composition: odd number of bulbs, three pointing downwards, the other two up, all pleasingly interspersed. This is a dichromatic painting, yet the artist succeeds in avoiding monotony; partially by using various compensatory grays and whites, and partially through the various said ironies. I have to admit that have I seen this vase in real life, I would have been attracted to it almost like by a magnet, wanting to push it just a little, to see what happens... Mwahaha! There is something very musical in the sound of a breaking glass. I think that the artist -- possibly subconsciously -- probes into this strange destructive appeal (which may also have subconscious roots). He taps into the prankish side of the viewers, testing them on the one hand, and providing with a visual outlet on the other.

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