Wednesday, May 20, 2015

"Workable Kitchen" by Lagana Bluangtook

This is a black and white linocut with color serigraph. The artist has posted both the color and black and white version on her website which can be found here. More often than not when I see two versions - color and black and white - of a relief print, I prefer the black and white. There is usually more of a surreal element, an added layer of psychological and formal complexity to those versions.  Color versions are usually flattened, too often in a predictable manner, and therefore provide viewers fewer entryways into the unknown.

However, in this case I find the color version much more intriguing. For one thing, may aspects of black and white are maintained because only that screaming yellow and a few, small swaths of blue and red are added to the basic black and white image. Rather than setting all the shapes in their predictable places, the color here seems to arbitrarily highlight certain shapes within an image that is ultimately - in its truest form - a colorless image. The color is an overlay or even an intrusion. In the black and white version, I feel I am in a simple kitchen with all the basic and necessary tools for preparing a meal and cleaning up afterward. But in this color version, I am in a place with a shrill emotional tenor. A place where - though all is still in this moment - something has happened here, and left its hysterical tinge on the walls and certain objects. The serenity of the composition and literal images is at such odds with the intense color that I cannot ignore the strikingly conscious, human presence.

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