Last night was the opening of J. Coleman‘s exhibit at Art Whino entitled “A Dream Remembered, An Endless Pause”. While I enjoyed his style and some individual pieces of his (and the overall Art Whino space is fabulous), I found that I couldn’t connect with most of it. After some consideration, I’ve come to realize it’ s the “football eyes” he uses to depict human faces and that I have the same feeling of “meh” about other artworks that do the same thing.
What is a human face without eyes? So much of who we are exists in them that to abstract them to the level of “footballs” is, to use a bad pun, a bit of a punt. I’ve been told:
“Well, everyone isn’t into realism.” Fine – that’s a perfectly valid perspective. But what’s the point of depicting a face at all then? Some animals have “spots” on them that are supposed to make others think they’re “looking” at them. Do these spots depict the nose? No. The mouth? No. Ears? No. Simply giving the impression of “eyes” is sufficient, even in nature, for instinct to recognize “face”.
So, unless you’re intentionally removing the humanity from a piece of art (which I don’t believe is usually the case), why not use allegorical imagery instead? I’m honestly much more likely to feel a connection to an expressionist rendering of a monkey in a clown suit than I am a human face with football eyes. And, with the pieces where Coleman did use monkeys/apes, I thought he was much more successful.
Looking at the pictures in this post, just imagine how much more impact they’d have if even the faintest attempt was made to bring humanity into the eyes.
More on the Art Whino space later, just wanted to get these thoughts out first.