Friday, 22 March 2013

Critical Analysis: Jill Greenberg

CRITICAL ANALYSIS

"Four More Years” by Jill Greenberg from 2006


Source: http://clampart.com/2012/04/four-more-years/jill-greenberg-four-more-year/


Jill Greenberg is a Canadian Artist (born 1967). Her focus is photographic portraiture; however, she is also renowned for magazine articles and solo exhibitions. Her portraits are staged and heavily manipulated afterwards, for a finished look. Her work has caused huge controversy in the community and art industry. She uses harsh lighting and shiny highlights as photographic editing techniques, linked to the Chiaroscuro technique used by Caravaggio (dramatic light and different human states). I have chosen this piece because Jill Greenberg’s work includes children who appear to be suffering for personal reasons. She uses different stages of distress and sadness, which most people experience at one point in their life, due to body image and self-perception. This relates to my focus on body image, the issues concerning the human body through abuse and my major, focusing on child abuse. I have previously experimented with photography and Adobe Photoshop techniques; however, I would like to express my major through another medium to provoke the intense feelings behind the works.


In the artwork “Four More Years”, the focal point is the boy’s hand clasped over his mouth, centered in the composition. The use of highlights, red cheeks and shadows in the background, draws your eye to this point. There is a strong contrast between one side of the boy’s body to the other (dark and light), which draws your eyes into the artwork further, with the expressive detail on the young boy’s face. There is no clothing, colour, costumes or make-up used; it is very simplistic which enhances the skin tones and reality of the piece. This also draws the viewer’s attention towards the detail of the face, which reveals the expressions and pain. The background is a neutral grey/blue colour, which varies from light to dark (shadows). The boy does not blend into the background, as there is a contrast between the foreground and background colours. The foreground is the young boy, creating an emphasis on body language, which stands out the most.


“Four More Years” was produced in 2006, using photographic techniques and technology, as well as editing and enhancing on computer programs. “Liam, suddenly became hysterically upset, it reminded me of the helplessness and anger I feel about our current political and social situation” (Jill Greenberg). The shapes present within the composition, are simplistic as it demonstrate the human form. The techniques used in this piece includes photography, however there has also been manipulation light (from different angles and intensities). There are no props or setting to enhance the work, it simply focuses on the child, rather than the environment. The artist has seemingly focused on the boy’s distress and the facial expressions displayed. The detail within the child’s face contrasts the bare, upper body, which appears natural. The colours and tones within the piece are realistic as it is a photograph; however, it has been digitally enhanced to increase the intensity of the emotions. The composition is well balanced and follows the ‘golden rule of thirds’ with the boys face on a point. Jill Greenberg has created a realistic piece through a digital photograph/print; however, the composition has been manipulated.


Jill Greenberg believes this artwork expresses “a grimace of despair”. In my opinion, the artwork expresses raw emotion that people attempt to conceal or hide. Children do not have the understanding of how to cover-up their emotions, rather they express themselves. The contrast in tones, colours and highlights, especially on the face suggest this raw emotion. The ideas or message I think the artist is trying to express in this artwork is pain people experience. From a very early age, we feel emotions; we learn how to express them and how other people behavior and words can create sadness, trauma and crises in our life. From a young age we express those feelings, however as we grow up we learn to suppress these emotions and mask the feelings, letting them eat us from the inside out. The artwork portrays sadness and despair; it makes you wonder what has happened to the child for them to look so heartbroken and distressed. The viewer must the interpret body language and the intensity of the piece is expressed through the composition, colours and facial expressions. The artwork is visually communicating emotion, through the depth and form.


My opinion of “Four More Years” hasn’t changed from first glance. Through critically analysing this artwork, I am still left to wonder why the child is in pain. As I am older I have experienced things that have perhaps made me feel the pain this child is in, and I hope the child has not experienced anything like that to make them feel that way. I chose to research this artwork for my journey, as I wanted to express the relationship between abuse and body image. I have developed an understanding of child abuse, although that was not the artist’s intent. This artwork has influenced and inspired my artwork (no. 7). The composition is well balanced and triggers emotions that few people are able to express in everyday life. I like the techniques Greenberg has used, despite the fact she has manipulated the image digitally and exposed a child’s innocence. From first glance, I felt distressed and after analysing the work, I continue to appreciate the aesthetics of the artwork, through composition, colours, intensity, tones and contrasts.


In critically analysing Jill Greenberg’s “Four More Years”, I have considered body image from a child’s point of view. Greenberg’s controversial series of 10 prints (“End Times”) have been consider unethical and unconventional, however the composition has enabled me to extend my knowledge of body image into different aspects of life: such as child abuse. I am able to improve the level and intensity of emotion in my artwork after analysing this work. I have an appreciation for Greenberg’s work and the message she is expressing. “Four More Years” also enables me to understand and develop my composition techniques. I have been able to appreciate this artwork, by linking body image to body art and the emotional, not just physical scars, that child abuse can leave on child.

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