Here’s a new piece that I assembled from scraps I had laying around. The Rembrandt self-portrait copy is from a few years back when I was demonstrating linocuts. The same goes for the trilobites. The watercolored background is a little more interesting. I normally keep a scrap of paper laying around on my desk in order to clean out watercolor brushes. Usually that paper looks like what it is: a mess. But this time it turned out looking like a real watercolor! So I kept it and put it into my magnificent collage.
Yes, you say. That’s all very “interesting”, you say. But what does it mean? Always with the what does it mean. Why can’t you folks just look at a piece of artwork and appreciate it for its plastic qualities? (“Plastic” is a word which here means characterized by an emphasis on formal structure.) Notice the three horizontal bands in the composition: black pen, COLOR!, black pen. It’s visual action sandwiched by calm line work. What about the left hand side being filled with imagery and it being offset by the right hand side’s minimal imagery? That’s some dynamic symmetry for ya! How does the seemingly random watercolor relate to the rigidity of the linocut line work? What tension! What part does the text play in how we see this piece? The big, fat letters are on the left, under the portrait and large trilobite; while the monster head is on the right, above the visually light, skinny letters and small trilobite. It seems to provide a sense of movement or tumbling as the heavy top right wants to fall over into the thinner, emptier bottom right. Or does the imagery on the left-hand side anchor it sufficiently?
Wow! Such questions to ponder before we ever get to what does it “mean“. Artwork is not a didactic book, it is meant to be seen first, and then we can think about what it means. By the way, I won’t tell you what this means. Maybe it doesn’t mean much of anything. Or maybe it comments on the vision of the great artist, Rembrandt and what his powers of seeing were able to behold. Your choice.