When I was a kid, I really struggled to get my head around things happening at the same time if I couldn’t see it happening. For example, I would get dropped off at my grandmothers while my parents worked. I would spend the day playing in her garden, or making cakes with her, and generally being a kid, I couldn’t comprehend that other people were doing other things at the same time in a different place, because they weren’t in my field of vision, it blew my 6 year old mind that anyone could possibly be doing things that I couldn’t see or be part of. To me they just disappeared for a while and then came back. Obviously I have since got my head around how time and space works, but I can still remember my utter confusion when people would talk about the things they had done while I couldn’t see them.
This painting, as soon as I saw it made me think back to that time, granted, it is confusing to look at on first glance, but it becomes much clearer as you take the time to look at it.
Wylie was born in Zimbabwe, but is now based in London, after some time in Paris. Since the completion of a fine art diploma he has been enjoying solo exhibits, and now with this painting a permanent placement in the Louvre, Abu Dhabi.
What strikes you first as you look at this painting, is the chaos. It seems overwhelming to the eye, full of bright colours and shapes which at first don’t make much sense. Then as your eyes settle to the chaos, you realise that there is a horizon line running along the back part of the canvas, with buildings and trees.
It then becomes quite evident that this is the same horizon, at different points, all combined in to one single moment. Well that is how I saw it anyway.
After a little research, I found that Wylie has taken a technique used by Gordon Matta Clarke and enhanced it to make it is own. Clark created a body of work where he went in to abandoned buildings and made cuts in them to reflect windows and door frames, almost making portals within. Given that Clark was trained in architecture, his interest was in making something of the architecture of a bygone era, rather than erecting new, modern buildings. The cuts gave a different view to the city and the building which was stood rotting, while others were being built around it.
Gordon Matta-Clark and Gerry Hovagimyan working on Conical Intersect, 1975
Wylie has taken this one step further, taking pictures of old and derelict buildings and painting them in layers on the canvas to present a cacophony of destruction, which has been softened by the bright palette and transparent effect of each layer.
Within it, you can see what appears to be outlines of people either trying to escape the destruction or on the clear up mission… but the painting does give way to thoughts of how resilient we are as a species, as we quickly recover areas which have been hit by floods, earthquakes or many other of the nature disasters which impact the surroundings we have created.
Seeing this painting with your own eye is highly recommended as in person the layers are so much more obvious than the photo I have taken of it, the colours are almost luminescent, which draws the audience in to its viewing, despite having varied focal points it doesn’t detract from anything, rather forces the view to look at the whole piece.
Now, when I have read about this artist, a lot of the articles are very confusing, over complicating the technique for the reader by talking about metaphysics, which is fine if you have an understanding of metaphysics… but I think that there is a potential for audiences who are viewing Wylie’s work to be put off through the use of language and style that they have been written in, therefore what you do need to know is that Wylie’s has taken a very clever overlaying concept and produced disorder in a single frame.
What do you see when you look at this painting? Why not tell me in the comments? Like this post? Why not share it?
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