Thursday, 3 May 2012

Notes on 'The Scream'

‘The Scream’ balances the ambiguous line between hysteria and euphoria, anxiety and adulation and between the ‘pop’ mask we present, as people - and the dark thoughts and feelings we potentially hide beneath that mask. 
To depict these notions in the painting a combination of references to Popular Culture and Art History is used. The image is drawn from Popular Culture – a screaming Beatles fan from a photo of the audience of a 1964 John Sullivan Show – whilst the pose evokes one of the great motifs of human suffering; Munch’s ‘The Scream’. The image is also a universal reference to all screaming fans – and has a particular current relevance with regard to the cultural impact of X Factor and the contemporary notion of how the audience can now be the star.

The audience member is the star of the painting.                                                     

This chimes with Warhol’s ‘everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes’ quote – and contradicts the reference to the scope of expression in Munch’s work . To further add symbolic reference to the 'lightness' of popular culture the text is constructed from Andy Warhol artwork titles.

However, this isn’t just a random list of Warhol artwork titles – the text is an original, fluid, and rhythmic poem [353 words long] – thoughtfully combining titles into words and phrases which not only assert the light and the mundane – “Kellogs Corn Flakes”, "chicken dumplings" - but also conjures new images and situations in the mind – “Naked Onassis in the shower”, "Jane Fonda Giant Panda". This, in turn, extends the artwork by creating new meanings and ambiguities. The positioning of the words to depict the form of the image also creates additional random word juxtapositions across the composition.

To conclude, the painting is a study of duality - words vs pictures, angst vs humour, Munch’s ‘Scream’ vs Caitlin Moran’s ‘SCREEAAAM’.

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