What’s Your Impression? Part 2

One of the reasons I enjoy impressionistic and expressionistic paintings so much is that they give me a glimpse into the artists’ response to the world as they experienced it. These works are basically interpretations (either more or less literal) of recognizable images, as represented through the artist’s experience. Attention is drawn to aspects that are important to the artist, while less important elements are minimized. This exaggeration and distortion may be barely discernible or may be taken to extremes. Visible brushwork is often an important factor in these paintings, as it is in “Dog Walkers” (#120522) below.

120522 Dog Walkers

The closer a painting is to the abstract end of the realism-abstraction continuum, the less “familiar” the image appears to the viewer. Some viewers find the inevitable distortions in these paintings disturbing or feel that the artist must have been unable to do it “better.” If color contrast is important to the artist, description of form may be minimized. If narrative is more important than description, scale may be intentionally distorted. To the untrained eye, all these distortions appear childish, prompting such remarks as, “A kindergartener could do better!” On the contrary, these variations away from “photographic” imagery do not necessarily indicate lack of technical understanding or ability on the part of the artist, but rather they show a willingness to restate the obvious and an ability to make use of the theoretical tools at hand to express intellectual ideas in an interpretive way.

How do you see it?

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