Saturday, 24 January 2015

Backs to the wall

Another peek inside the artist's studio.....

The works in today's post are all back views. Whether heads or figures, nude or clothed, the back view of a person hints at mystery, reverie and detachment. The viewer is unable to gauge the expression or can only partially do so if the face is in profile. The subject is usually portrayed as lost in thought, absorbed in some inner meditation, unaware of the viewer. We, the viewer, have to put our imaginations to work to fill in the gaps.

In painting, the Rückenfigur is the term used to describe a figure in the landscape, seen from behind, contemplating the view. The viewer is encouraged to place himself in the position of the Rückenfigur, so that he may experience the same sense of awe in the face of nature as felt by the figure in the painting. Associated with notions of the the sublime in nature, German romantic painters such as Caspar David Friedrich used this device to emphasise the spiritual and mystical aspects of the contemplation of nature.

The figures in the paintings featured below are not depicted in any communion with nature. In fact, we do not know what they are looking at. Nevertheless, their back views may lead us to suppose that their minds are on higher things, their thoughts turned in on themselves and the viewer is inspired to share their experience....

All paintings copyright Mike Newton
More of Mike's Rückenfigur work can be seen here and here

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