Musings on Art

Welcome, and hands together: Goldie meets Kihara

Welcome to my blog!

This is essentially a space to just write about art: artworks I am fascinated by, and local exhibitions (currently around Auckland, New Zealand) that have caught my interest.  I hope to entertain and inform, and generate a love of art within you.  So thank you for visiting, and for reading my first post ever 🙂

I have recently become addicted to the Arctic Monkeys’ AM; an absolutely brilliant album and a definite change in sound when compared to their debut, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not.  Their first track ‘Do I Wanna Know?’ is particularly addictive and eargasmic (the truth: I am listening to it right now).

A lovely friend mentioned an article on Buzzfeed that described how the intro to the above song was created with digitally enhanced clapping hands and slapping knees (This post will relate back to art, I swear).  This fun fact fascinated me, and I started thinking about the various hands I had seen in art, and two artists who immediately came to mind, were Charles F. Goldie and Shigeyuki Kihara.

You can read the Buzzfeed article here:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/danmartin/19-reasons-the-arctic-monkeys-album-will-blow-your-mind

Reflecting on hands, I immediately thought of  Goldie’s painting, Memories, Ena Te Papatahi, a Chieftainess of the Ngāpuhi Tribe (1906, oil on canvas, 127 x 101.6 cm, Auckland Art Gallery).  Possibly New Zealand’s most famous portraitist, Charles F. Goldie (1870-1947) was renowned for his paintings of Māori figures.  His works are exceptional in their attention to detail and intense realism, yet simultaneously intriguing in that they are greatly staged, questioning their verisimilitude.

The wonderful hands in Memories are front and centre when you stand before this painting, capturing your attention.  Beautifully rendered, Ena’s hands are static but expressive, nearly with a life of their own.  I often wonder what kind of person Ena was, and what stories could be told from such hands.  There is a perpetual awareness that Goldie staged such scenes, particularly in the wistful, contemplative looks evident in many of his portraits, and his belief that he was capturing a dying and noble race.  Nevertheless, Goldie’s style is utterly meticulous, with the veins and muscles of the hands minutely lined, conveying the passage of time and filled with the memories of a life lived.

If you would like to see Ena, follow this link:

http://www.aucklandartgallery.com/the-collection/browse-artwork/1907/memories-ena-te-papatahi,-a-chieftainess-of-the-ngapuhi-tribe

Hands play an expressive and dynamic role in the work, Siva in motion (2012, digital performance video, 8 min. 44 sec.) by Shigeyuki Kihara.  Wearing a black Victorian mourning dress, Kihara evokes the motions of the tsunami that devastated American Samoa, Samoa and Tonga in September of 2009.  Her silent performance is inspired by taualuga, a Samoan dance, and has been filmed in an overlapping stop motion manner that creates a spectral shadowing effect for each gesture.

I found this trailing trace of hands to be exquisite and hypnotising, reminiscent of an ocean’s rolling waves.  Some of her gestures are repetitive, and there is a rhythm of ascension and decline, similar to the surges of the sea.  Kihara also makes references to Victorian era chronophotographers, Étienne-Jules Marey and Eadweard Muybridge with her stop motion effects, as well as the sprawling colonialism of that period, by donning a Victorian dress.  This richly layered work conveys the crossing of time and cultures, all in the entrancing and delicate motions of the hands.

Siva in motion was exhibited in the Home Akl exhibition in 2012, yet a video of the making can be found below:

http://vimeo.com/channels/shigeyuki/50271507

I hope you enjoyed this quick survey of just a few of the great hands portrayed in art – from the painterly to the dynamic.

Thanks for visiting!

M.

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