Round Eight: Skulls
Kelly Durette vs Florian Meacci
I feel like skulls are a little en vogue at the moment, which is definitely not a bad thing. There is something quite captivating about the representation of skulls in art and tattoos, and the mix of flesh and skull is quite popular. It appears that we like to see under ones skin, to the point that we often paint what it supposed to be under, on top. Get what I mean? Well, these images should help make it a bit clearer.
What I like about the first image (Durette):
I’ll quickly start with the red hair (how fitting to my recent post Red Hair!) and how vibrant it makes the piece. It definitely draws the viewer in and demands attention. This is enhanced by the beautiful rainbow eye sockets and almost river-like nature of the detail around the jaw. It is almost as if her face is a landscape – cracked brown lines of dry earth and deep blue rivers leading to icy mountaintops. Really beautiful. I connect this image a little with the Mexican skull look, and I think the cross on her forehead supports this by referencing Christianity. The hand resting on her lips adds a pensive aspect to the image, and we can really see that she is thinking, contemplating. Her focused eyes gaze past the viewer into her mind. Like much skull art, Durette is not trying to be realistic. Instead we have a beautiful woman whose face has been painted to suggest a skull in quite a beautiful way. But Durette supports the skull subject further by adding that cute little hair piece – a rabbit skull? I’m not too sure, but I like the addition and how the bone colour balances with the hand bones, adding a nice symmetry. The bunny skull is a lot fiercer than our lady – its teeth bared and growling at us. I also love the gold tooth – a pinch of humor never goes a miss. Overall, I think the image works well and engages with the viewer. The vibrant colours in the centre of the image make us focus there before we drift out to the crisp white backdrop. It looks like Durette has used pencil or pastel which is also a refreshing medium that I haven’t seen used for a while. Nice.
What I like about the second image (Meacci):
Meacci is almost the opposite to Durette in terms of colour. Here we have such simplicity – black and white with a touch of purple tones. Wonderful in its scarce colour use. The image is almost normal, almost ordinary, but then Meacci brings in the skull. Created in water-colour, the skull aspect has a beauty to it, and like Durette’s piece, our eyes focus in to the colour. Faintly we see a suggestion of teeth under flesh, the depth of the nose cavity, the depth of the eye socket, the curve of the jawbone. And much like Durette’s piece, we know this is not real. We are not peeling back the flesh horrifically, but reminding ourselves of our own mortality, our substance. I can easily imagine a whole exhibition of pieces like this that give small hints to what lies beneath – the heart, the ribcage and so on. I love the subtly of the colour and what it suggests. The penmanship of the rest of the woman is excellent and works well to contrast, but also compliment, the watercolor skull piece. The woman stares out at us, confronting us, knowing something but refusing to reveal what. The piece is engaging, beautiful, stark, vulnerable. I really like it, and would love to see similar pieces in a series of this style.
Both pieces approach skull art in a slightly fresh way. Durette is vibrant, almost over the top, a celebration of the afterlife. Meacci is subtle, soft and sensual, exposing our vulnerability as humans, suggesting hurt with death (the colour of bruising). Durette looks away, seeing past life, a faith in more, a wonderment with more. Meacci looks at us directly – “Are you ready? Ready for the unknown?”, wanting us to fear. I like both pieces, and what both pieces could represent about death. Aesthetically I prefer Meacci, and I think I also like the melancholy uncertainty it connects with death. So, in this instance, I crown the winner Florian Meacci.
Do you agree? Let me know who you would crown winner.
I agree with your decision! Meacci’s subtlety just takes it for me.
Glad you agree! It’s certainly a nice piece