Anguish

This exhibition focuses on the many different ways in which pain is expressed and understood, both in art and in the world around us. A dictionary definition will tell you that pain is "physical suffering or distress, as due to injury, illness, etc.";  "a distressing sensation in a particular part of the body"; or "mental or emotional suffering or torment". The pieces I have selected for this exhibit each display a different understanding of what it is to experience pain, including the counter-piece. It is my goal that this exhibition open the eyes of the viewers to the many forms of pain in the world around them.

When most people think of pain they most likely imagine some form of physical injury. That is the very reason I have placed this piece as the primary display in this exhibit. This particular piece, by Chang Hong Ahn, shows viewers that physical pain which is so familiar to all of us. Ahn's work focuses on themes of life and death, representing human despair. This work brings to life that physical pain that so many of us experience from day to day, all the while calling to mind that emotional pain we feel when the sharp thorns of life tear at the flesh of our souls. This piece was created in the Modernist era and can be placed with Symbolic art.
The pain in this particular piece is not so easy to imagine as the pain in the previous piece, but I included it because to me it displays a pain that can be felt in the soul. This woman's body writhes with pain, the motion visible in the way her body is curved, as if she is crying out in agony. The piece was created during the same time that Cubism was prevalent in painting in the United States, but this piece is more of a representation of that Classical style we know so well in sculpture.
The title of this work, in conjunction with the emotion of the subject, led me to select this piece for my exhibit. The mother is depressed and full of grief, wracked with pain for the loss of her husband. Emotional pain is very real to us as sentient beings, and at times it can be more damaging to the human person than physical pain. Created in response to horrible violence committed against black families in the 1930s and 1940s, this piece contributes to the movement known as Social Realism in its portrayal of this all to common theme among black families in the United States.
I chose to include this piece because of the obvious pain and sorrow that these two women are experiencing as they keep vigil over the body of a dead man (Rita Pomade, http://www.mexconnect.com/articles/1068-francisco-goitia-a-product-of-his-times). This particular piece shows the heart-wrenching pain experienced by so many people at the loss of a loved one, just like the previous piece, making it very relatable. Goitia's previous works were painted in a Symbolist style, and it appears that this work follows that style as well.
Like the previous two pieces this work pulls at the viewers' heartstrings and calls to mind the loss of loved ones. However, it also calls to mind that feeling of total isolation, which can be determined by the near-barren landscape and the coldness of the cloudy skies and the snow-capped ground. Hill's work contributes to the great collection of landscape paintings(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cemetery).
Dorothea Lange is best known for her documentation of the poorest people in the United States during the Great Depression. This particular photograph, though not readily discernible, is a vivid depiction of the deep pain felt by those that suffered most during the Depression. Her works have contributed greatly to what we know as portrait photography, capturing the faces of every day people, not just the wealthy and the famous.
I chose to include this piece because of the blank expression on the young girl's face, in addition to the name of the painting. The work shows the practice of slash-and-burn farming, which required multiple hands. The young girl in the center of the painting shows the viewers how tiring the work is, discernible in her tired gaze. Her expression leads one to believe that she would rather be anywhere else but there. Jarnefelt painted this piece in order to capture the Finnish nature and people in Savonia, and desiring to express the heavy work that they had to do he would take pictures of the farmers and their farmhands at work in order to later paint them (http://www.ateneum.fi/en/eero-j%C3%A4rnefelt-under-yoke-burning-brushwood-1893).
Though not all of us have experienced being in love, I'm sure we can all imagine the pain felt at the absence of a lover. It is for this reason that I chose this piece. The subject of this piece is a young woman who is longing for the man she loves, presumably the one who wrote the letter she holds in her hand. Painted at the end of Almeida Junior's life, this work portrays the life of a quite ordinary young woman. She is not extraordinary in any way. This work, like many of Almeida's paintings, depicts a scene from the life of ordinary people in his homeland of Brazil.
The pain in this piece is quite evident, not only from the title of the work, but also by the way the young woman is curled over on herself as she mourns at the grave of her lost love. Clausen painted this work as a memento to the many young men that lost their lives during World War I, including the fiance of his daughter, Katharine. The work combines traditional classicism with Christian symbolism in its representation of the devastation felt following the war, caused by the loss of almost an entire generation of young men (http://archive.iwm.org.uk/upload/package/95/collections/art/sir-george-clausen.html).
The following piece, while not a clear depiction of pain, is still a representation of pain in some form. However, this pain is a sweet pain, the pain of ecstasy. I selected this piece as the representation of my counterpoint. This piece not only shows total happiness, but it also shows pain. Saint Theresa of Avila said of her ecstasy, "The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it." The pain of ecstasy is not one that rips apart the body and causes grief, but rather it causes great happiness and rejoicing. It is like the pain experienced by those in love who feel their heart being drawn to the one they love most, resulting in the sweetest pain that they feel throughout their entire body.
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