Dark Stage @ Thinkspace Gallery

October 12, 2016

Can good, if not great, artistic technique be sufficient enough a measure for good art? Is such mastery of the most fastidious detail in visual representation not an astonishment in itself? This is the challenge prompted by the artist, Adam Caldwell, who is exhibiting works that are self-described as emulating Jacques-Louis David’s intentionally theatrical spacing of the human figurines portrayed. To capture the human motion in such dramatic spacing is indeed unnerving for an unconfident artist. In other words, it takes a certain amount of bravado to feel certain in being able to portray the life theatrically-staged in a manner which can easily slip off the tight rope being walked. In this sense, then, the exhibition is a triumph of artistic technique.

Yet does a carefully crafted sentence make for a good story? Or does the whole end up being larger than the sum of its parts? Is this not the intention and rightful aim of any artwork? Not to be overly concerned with the intricacies unless they additively accumulate into a snow mountain rather than a fragmented series of snowflake spectacles? Weighing this consideration, on the other hand, this exhibition is a disappointment. What it captures is nothing which ravages the soul; the astonishment is only paper-thin. Underneath the façade is an empty vassal of tedium. Glorified still-life is what it amounts too.

Yes, we might contend that the French Neoclassicism was just as much. Its imaginativeness, however, did move its contemporaries’ imaginations forward. It was visually representing – in an entirely gorgeous style – pure fiction. Such depictions are no longer rare and are indeed overabundant in this day and age, where high-quality visualized fictions are churned easier than butter in the affluent world. A visual fine artist, must then, contend for something higher than the kinetics, if not frenzy, of human motion captured in a split second. A visual artist, in other words, must aspire to be beyond interior decorators but to actually inject into the life of the human being some newfound meaning, some unhidden perspective to what their life is.

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