Yayoi Kusama and James Gleeson Essay

Submitted By NoFuchs
Words: 1487
Pages: 6

The transition of state of mind is a subject that is extensively explored throughout popular culture, and thus, has become a substantial topic which many contemporary and classical artists have explored. Many personal narratives have been created utilising the transition of the mind and self-realisation in art, in particular the explorations of Yayoi Kusama and James Gleeson, both of whom have created in depth investigations of the mind that represent transitions through the utilisation of ideas, media, messages, subject matter and artistic techniques.

James Gleeson is an artist who has extensively utilised the surreal genre of art to demonstrate his inclination to the subject of realisation of self and the transition of the mind-state. Utilising various media including pastels, oils and inks, Gleeson draws inspiration from poetry and utilises its themes to portray alternate realities for himself, often depicting alienated mental states. In Gleeson’s artwork “something is going to fall like rain” (1982), which depicts an altered state of mind for the artist, James Gleeson utilised lines from a poem by W.H. Auden as his inspiration. Gleeson depicts an altered reality for himself, one which contains a “…transmuted… imaginary world beyond the normal experience one could have in nature.” (Kolenberg, 2003) Gleeson successfully consolidated the idea into a surreal painting which depicts the desolate and deserted recesses of his own mind, and thus, successfully utilised transitions of reality and self to put his state of mind into a new context, clearly displaying the transition between mind states.

Design elements and artistic techniques utilised within “Something is Going to Fall Like Rain” reinforce the theme of transition with their transitions between light and dark and the use of monochromatic colours to depict a desolate landscape representing the artists mind. The incorporation of different shades of grey successfully works to create tonal contrast between the lightness of the surreal faces and the harsher mid-tones of the background. The light coloured faces are twisted in fiendish screams which, when compared the soft shading of the background, works to create a clear transition between states of mind, pain and suffering to calmness and static emotion. The dreamlike quality of the artwork successfully functions to create a depiction of a tortured state of mind.

The subject matter of “Something is Going to Fall Like Rain” convey the emotional torment of the artist, and his preoccupation to slip between different states of mind, torment and torture to calmness and serenity. Gleeson portrays the surreal faces in a state of suffering, the faces being twisted and contorted to express the emotions. The “something” which Gleeson refers to is a state of self-destruction and annihilation. The transition between the detail of the faces contrasting with the bleak and desolate landscape surrounding them work to convey the emotional transitions which the artist undergoes. The clear contrast of the artwork creates a point of focus on the pain and suffering of the people, which symbolise the artist’s predilection for a similar way of thinking. Thus, through subject matter, the artwork symbolises the transition of mind states which the artist undergoes, and represents the alternate realities that many individuals face.

The reading of “Something is Going to Fall Like Rain” that I bring is one of pain and suffering, and the transition that James Gleeson, and many individuals undergo. The transition of light and dark, for me, represents the dark and brooding side which is contained in all people. The light sections of the artwork portray the connection to the light side of the mind, these sections being dwarfed by the pain and suffering which the artist must endure, represent the struggle to break free from the anguish. The faces, which are contorted to the point where they are almost unrecognisable, represent the many faces which a…