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Tyler Briggs

Looking at Pictures

“Original paintings are silent and still in a sense that information never is.” This sentence, presented in Berger’s essay on page 158, holds more truth than first seems apparent. Sometimes this silence that he talks about is exactly like it sounds. Silence. Nothingness. After all, how can a simple, still painting make any noise? How can colors—and sometimes just lines—on some sort of medium communicate in any way besides visual representation to the viewers?

I’m not normally one to be moved by art. I’m not even one to go to an art gallery on a regular basis. My visitations to art galleries only included a hotel in a foreign city with bad weather, limiting my tourist options. But things were different when I found my painting. Untitled #62 was not my original first pick for the painting to write this essay on. No, its awesome beauty and savage intellect spoke to me in a different way than my first choice. But the vibrant colors definitely stood out.

If you haven’t yet observed the painting I chose, take the time to do so now. I want you to have the ability to think what you want about this magnificent work.

Okay, so you’ve done that now, right? You’ve seen Mr. Belanger’s visually stimulating art and have therefore been impacted by it. The brilliance of the masterfully blended colors have been placed inside your mental database for artwork. According to Berger, your perspective of it and my perspective will be different. Not because I may be taller or shorter than you or the afternoon sun was shining in when I saw it, but it wasn’t when you admired it. No, it’s because our past experiences in this world have led you to feel slightly or drastically different about this image than I did. The only person in this world who could maybe guess at how this picture affected me would my brother, and that’s because we grew up together. I see him almost every day.

When I first saw this picture, I actually stumbled with my thoughts. It didn’t force me to feel some specific feeling like paintings of landscapes often do. It guided and lead me to feel ANYTHING. It longed to be the creator of a feeling, regardless of how rude, cruel, nice, and/or gentle that feeling could be. And, as I looked at this painting, I began to be more and more intrigued. I locked eyes with what I envision to be the eyes of something in the painting, and I stared for one minute, two minutes, three, four. The time flew by. I didn’t know how to feel. I tried to comprehend what the picture was of, what the picture was trying to show. And I think it was doing the same to me!

Now, like I said earlier, I’m not normally one to be moved by art. But this one was just a bit different. It was a new concept to me, the red hair of a possible creature being the face of another creature. So I stepped closer. I tried to see this painting as something of a mystery that I actually could solve—but it really isn’t for me to solve, is it?—so I studied it. Then I took a step back (and in the process nearly knocking over an expensive looking jar vase thingy with some figure as a handle) and examined the painting from further back. Again, I was fixed on the painting. I felt like part of me was involved, but the part of me that wasn’t was trying to rediscover this painting. I couldn’t quite get a grip on this work of art.

I thought about what Berger said of people “situating ourselves in” our surrounding landscape. I noticed I was standing where I should; I was standing in the little aisle thing and looking at the picture from the assumed position. So I decided to be a little unconventional about my viewing of this piece. After all, I was the only one in the gallery area. So I leaned to my left until I had the picture sideways. I leaned to the right now, laughing quietly at how I had been so easily subjective to the power of this picture and done its crazy bidding, leaning until I about knocked another sculpture out of place. Slightly mortified of how careless I had been, I decided to patrol the room. Like a guard protecting some hidden secret, I scoured the four corners of that little room guarding my little secret, always watching how the light seemed to hide some things and show others that I never would’ve noticed in my “normal” viewing area.

Again, from the far corner, I had a staring contest with the beastly painting. Again, I was compelled to get closer, the painting drawing me in. I fought back this time, resisting, even looking at other pictures to make my mysterious painting jealous. In the end, it won. I couldn’t resist turning back to meet the powerful colors of red, yellow, and (oddly enough) blue. This picture had me in it’s treacherously wonderful claws. And I didn’t mind. I rather enjoyed the experience. So, after looking like an idiot and a rather odd teenager, I decided this one couldn’t be more complex. It couldn’t mean more to me either. It was the perfect painting.

Berger was right. I agree with him. A person will perceive something differently based off their experiences. I watched multiple people walk by without even a change of expression on their face when the looked at it. I saw others feel the intriguing pull, the power this painting has. I know they felt it. How could they not? But they kept moving. It wasn’t until I talked to the curator that I found another person who felt the same intense pull I did. The gallery attendant herself actually experienced the power I had experienced for the past half hour. She tried to hide it. From who, I haven’t got a clue. But she tried. Only her desire to do her job kept her from falling under this incredible painting’s mighty spell.

Mr. Belanger created an incredibly powerful painting. Whether or not he realized the impact this would have on people when he put his idea into reality is out of the picture (no pun intended). It actually changed my mood. I felt like I had experienced a battle, an unimaginable war when I left. I felt experienced, wise, aged, changed. All for a bit of time at the art gallery.

Ladies and gentleman, I give to you for the second time Mr. Belanger’s Untitled #62:

Untitled #62

Ken Belanger

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6 Comments

  1. Very interesting and informative post. I like it that you found your “perfect painting”.

  2. Reading your essay I cannot help but wonder if you have chose a major. Have you? If so did you chose it because you felt like you had to pick something, or is it something you are certain you want to pursue. Just curious.

    • Before I answer this, I want to ask you why you’re curious. Because I have in fact chosen my major to be pharmacy. Oddly enough, I have dreamed of this since I was in the 7th grade. I’ve written multiple papers on it throughout my years of high school. But English is my favorite subject and math is my second. Chemistry is cool too, but I’m not as … comfortable with it. I’m not sure comfortable is the right word, but for now, it’s going to have to work. So, to answer your question, yes I have chosen. Why do you ask?

  3. It seems that you have done the assignment as stated. Good job. I like how you continually use the theme of being pulled to or sucked back to the painting to concrete in the reader’s mind the effect of this piece on yourself. Never ask the artist (if present) or the gallery owner about the work. Everything they tell you will be a sales pitch.

  4. First off I will add a comment to your star wars ref. ” come to the dark side we have cookies.” OK now that i got my haha out. Back to your paper. The painting is different very different , but I can understand why you found it interesting. your description was awesome and your quotes and relations were excellent. Oh and my cat approves of the picture as well I think Bacardi thinks its a turkey . Your paper unlike my comment post is very organized and easy to follow which allows the reader to enjoy the piece .

  5. Tyler–This is an interesting approach to the assignment. The direct address to the reader was a little offsetting at first, but supports the overall conversational tone of the essay (I could definitely hear you in your essay). All of this is fine, but I would like to see two things in the revision. The first is what questions you asked of the painting. You’ve got a nice description of your conversation with it, I think, but how did it begin and what did you ask it? Also, I’d like to hear your description of the painting. With a painting like this, how you describe it can be just as revealing as telling us what you saw in it. The description of how you situated yourself in the landscape of the painting was especially interesting.


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