Round Twelve: Pattern
Alexandra Levasseur vs. Joshua Burbank
I really like both images I am comparing today. They are undeniably beautiful, and have an exquisite raw quality. The colouring adds warmths and the pattern unites the pieces. There is a lot of art (especially design) that is focused on pattern. But not always (or even often) is pattern used in addition to a human subject. Mostly you find a neat, carefully designed repetitive pattern that looks great on a t-shirt or as an iPhone case. Those items are great, and certainly serve the purpose of an aesthetic, non-confrontational designed accessory. But today I am looking at the opposite, with pieces that use raw, unrefined ideas and illusions of patterns. What I love in both pieces is the subtlety of pattern and the way it enhances the subject matter through texture and warmth.
What I like about the first image (Levasseur):
I find this piece stunning. I love the triple nature of it – the woman has three hands and three eyes – yet it reads quite easily. You can understand the piece, and the surreal elements are almost secondary to the essence of the piece, which I would say is a woman in contemplation. There is a certain frenetic energy, somewhat created by the use of triples (adding motion and overlaying time), and somewhat created by the pattern of the couch. I see our lady sitting on a couch that is pretty traditional in its floral pattern. While I’m not entirely sure if the piece presents us with an actual couch, the illusion is there. She merges into the couch, especially her arm on the left side of the painting, but this confusion of detail does not make the image unreadable. Levasseur successfully incorporates the pattern of the couch into multiple elements of the image. Colours connect with her hair, her painted nails, the wall and the drawings on the wall. Overlapping of the pattern into her clothes, and the pen drawing on the wall into her hair and facial elements, makes the piece merge together, further enhancing the frenetic energy. She is in thought, lost, struggling, yet peaceful, aware, meaningful. Again, I really love this piece. It is beautiful, while also being layered and interesting to look at for hours.
What I like about the second image (Burbank):
When I first saw this image I went straight to Klimt. The pattern elements, which are almost quilt-like, have very strong connections to colours and patterns used in many pieces by Gustav Klimt. Of course, this made me like the piece more than I would have had the Klimt influence been lacking. What is great, however, is that aside from the pattern, the piece is very unique and stands apart from Klimt’s work. The woman is looking at us face on, and has a well painted face that is rather realistic. But her face is the only part of the image that has a three dimensional element to it. The rest of the image is flat, and almost appears like plaster on a wall, smudged over an underlying wallpaper or painting. Her body merges back into the wall behind her, and is only brought forward through use of colour. Burbank uses this colour and the pattern to make her outfit appear. Three dimensional form is not needed for this element to be read. Her hooded hat has the most vibrancy and depth (after her face) and stands out more against the wall. The wall, while not really being a pattern in the traditional sense, still has elements of a pattern as the subject matter (bedroom furniture and classic Nouveau shapes and patterns) repeats itself. The use of pattern in this image adds a tremendous amount of texture through the illusion of many layers being glued onto of each other. I find this a really interesting and tactile way to use pattern. Like Levasseur, the colours used add warmth and unite the piece. Overall, another interesting piece that draws you back to another time. Well done.
As I have stated, I find both pieces really nice. They use pattern in an unconventional way, to add unity, texture and mood to their female subjects. I love the subtlety of the pattern, that it works through essence rather than perfection. Each piece incorporates the pattern elements through the entire image without making this over the top. I am impressed with both pieces, but am far too in love with Levassuer’s image to have it anywhere but number one. So, congratulations to Alexandra Levasseur for formulating such a stunning piece to be todays This vs. That winner.
Do you agree? Let me know which piece you would crown winner.