First things first – Melanie’s paintings should be displayed vertically, not in a triangle, like I had them before today. When hung vertically, they form an obvious progression from the heat of the day to the cool of a moonlit night.
So what do I like about Melanie’s paintings?
This may sound like criticism, but it is far from it – I like Melanie’s paintings because they are childlike. Not childish. Childlike. If you were to try to paint the dream of a child, these are what you would paint. The buildings are distended, as if alive. The windows, especially in the middle painting, look like eyes. The sun in the top and bottom paintings looks almost as if it has been spit up from the street. And the street itself looks as if it is standing straight up and down.
Melanie, it seems to me, has captured brilliantly a recurrent dream image of a child. And that is no insignificant feat.
It seems to me that capturing is perhaps one of the fundamental artistic metaphors.
Great artists somehow capture something.
Maybe the fact that capturing is so important to art is part of the reason that photography changed art so much. Photographs capture rather well the world just as it is. So with the advent of photography artists had to figure out not just how to capture something but also what to capture. And that doubles the difficulty.
This is pure speculation, but perhaps what makes contemporary art so difficult, both to produce and to appreciate, is the fact that artists must now figure out both what to capture and how to capture it. Picasso’s cubist attempts to capture the three dimensionality of a person on a two dimensional plane is a case in point. It took a genius to think that such a phenomenon could and should be captured and then to figure out how to do it. And it takes a certain aesthetic leap to appreciate Picasso’s cubist paintings. Neither capturing what is not part of the world nor appreciating what is captured are easy feats.
And this in part is what I like so much about Melanie’s paintings. She has captured a child’s dream. Indeed, when I look at Melanie’s paintings I feel a bit like a child who has been winked at by someone who knows about his dreams.
AMANDA C. MATHIS
5 weeks ago