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Posts Tagged ‘surrealism’

When I was in grad school I had to study my own art and artistic process and write a thesis about it. It was then that I discovered the niche where my art belongs in the Art World – a style called Magic Realism.

The term “Magic Realism” was first used by Franz Roh in his book, Nach-expressionismus (Post-Expressionism) written in 1925.  He later used the same term in 1968 in his new book German Art in the 20th Century.  He also called this new development in art “The New Objectivity” (F. Roh, German Art in the 20th Century. Greenwich: New York Graphic Society, 1968, 112.) By using the term Magic Realism Roh is referring to Post-Expressionistic artwork in which some mystery or secret seems to be hidden within the subject matter.  As opposed to Expressionism, “Magic Realism emphasizes the object and the everyday life in new and unfamiliar ways.  Juxtapositions of sharply rendered and detailed elements, both in the foreground and back ground, are used to develop an air of mystery or ambiguity.  They remind us that there are still many mysteries in life.”  http://www.tendreams.org/magic-art.htm

Roh used the following dichotomies to highlight the differences between Expressionism and Magic Realism:

Expressionism: Magic Realism:
Ecstatic subjects
Rhythmical
Extravagant
Dynamic
Loud
Close-up view
Monumental
Thick color texture
Rough
Emphasis on the visibility of the
painting process
Centrifugal
Expressive deformation
Sober objects
Representational
Puristically severe
Static
Quiet
Close and far view
Miniature
Thin paint surface
Smooth
Effacement of the
painting process
Centripetal
External purification of the object
(Roch. 113)

I found more similarities with my artwork among the attributes of Magic Realism than Expressionism.  I believe that my style developed more towards representational, quiet, static images in painting, turning daily life into eerie form, with a thin paint surface, although I experimented with the opposite qualities as well, never finding much satisfaction in them. Some of my works are more surrealistic (Caged and If I Could Have Opened My Heart), while others (In the Room With Memories or In the Room With the Magic Ball) can be referred to as Magic Realism.

In Art History, Magic Realism acted as a portal to Surrealism, and many artists shifted back and forth from one to another, especially Magritte (Roch, 138).  When I discovered the website ww.tendreams.org  I found a few artists there who I knew before and considered them as influences, but did not realize that they belonged to the Magic Realism group, among them Andrew Wyeth, George Tooker and Charles Scheeler. These artists sometimes crossed the boundaries between Surrealism, Symbolism and Magic Realism. My work also shifts back and forth across the boundaries of Surrealism and Magic Realism, while a large number of other works as you can see on my website www.allaparsons.com are just studies from life: Figure, Still Life and Landscape. I feel the need to work on these Life Studies and I am constantly working to improve my skills in observational drawing and painting. However I consider Magic Realism my major work which takes a longer time to go through the process in my mind, before ripening and appearing, first on sketchbook pages and then on canvas.

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I was going to publish more stories about my paintings and then a friend asked “Why the crow?” So I will start from this one.

In the Room With Memories

In the Room With Memories

The crow in the painting “In a Room With Memories”  is a memory from my childhood.  My mother had a pet crow.  The crow just came into the open window one day and stayed to live with us. We gave her name Viktoria (“Vichka”). She loved my mother and hated me, probably out of jealousy,  and sometimes tried to bite me.  I was only 4 years old, I was scared, but fascinated with the crow and was trying to gain her trust.  In doing so, I learned to speak like a crow, but that just seemed to annoy her.  In this painting I am finally becoming friends with the crow and making peace with my memories.

The image of the crow is appearing again in the “Self-Portrait in the Red Turban”. I thought about how the feeling of me being rejected by the crow in my childhood is similar to the feeling of being rejected by the art world. I felt rejected when I heard from someone at about the age 14: “There had never been great women artists.”  At first I tried to argue but I had no facts to prove the opposite.  During the 1970s in the Soviet Union no one knew about Artemisia Gentileschi,  Georgia O’Keefe, or Lee Miller.  It was obvious that all “great artists” of both present and the past were men, especially those who chose to join the Communist Party.  I heard negative remarks about “women’s art” which was often considered unimportant and limited to flowers and such.  At the same time in the United States Linda Nochlin’s 1971 article, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?” was published.  It is ironic that the same words that empowered women artists in the United States made me give up my dream of becoming an artist in the USSR.

Self-Portrait in a Red Turban

Self-Portrait in a Red Turban

The image of the crows in this work represents great artists whom I envied and wanted to join but was rejected.  Just like being rejected by the crow in my childhood with whom I wanted to be friends.  There is a statement in this work that I do belong to the art world.  I state this by representing myself in Van Eyck’s famous red turban and by painting crow feathers on my coat.  This connects me to the art world as well as to the crows’ world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

crow

 

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001_self_in_red_turban

My work “Self-Portrait in a Red Turban” was published in:

The Lexikon of Fantastic Artists (2nd german extended edition) ISBN: 9-783848263073

The official presentation of the book is Saturday, February 23, 2013 11:00 a.m. at the PhantastenMuseum Wien
Palais Palffy 1010 Vienna Josefsplatz 6

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Window

Window

Magic Realism: Paintings and Drawings by Alla Parsons
You are cordially invited to the Artist Reception
3:00 – 5:00 PM – Sunday, February 10 at

Robert F. Cage Gallery in Prizery

700 Bruce Street, South Boston, Virginia 24592
Preview Artist Work at

www.allaparsons.com

Like her page on Facebook!

Exhibition will run February-March, 2013

The reception is free and open to the public.

Alla holds MFA in Painting and teaches Art Classes at Danville Museum of Fine Art and History. Contact the Museum for more information.

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My Self-Portrait “In the Russian House” – encaustic on wood. I used this image for the recently updated buisness card.

www.allaparsons.com

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Window

Window

I realized at some point that I always included mirrors and windows in many of my images. I am looking for symbolical meaning of mirrors and windows and trying to understand what it means for me.

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