October 10, 2008

Moving Lines

I am no art enthusiast nor do I write art/movie/book reviews well (a recent post by Amit comes to mind -- easy to critique; difficult to create, no?)... but thought I'd share a short review of an art exhibition I saw today.

I went to the Boston Public Library in Copley Square this afternoon and saw that they had an exhibition of d
rawings by Channing Penna on display at the BPL.

MOVINGLINE is the outcome of a seven-year exploration of the science and humanity of movement. With pencil, Channing Penna captures nature's energy, beauty, and rhythms in a series of sixty-seven drawings with accompanying prose. In this extraordinary body of work, the intimacy of her art is initially represented by images of crashing waves, birds in flight, and racing horses. Her pursuit of motion then evolves into renditions of dancers and musicians performing, and complex portrayals of the human face. Organic and surprising, Channing's drawings are unforgettable for the power of their line, the drama of their black and white compositions, and the innovation with which they are rendered.

And here is
the artist's statement about the work. S
ome of the work from the exhibition can be seen in a recently released book or even at her website.

However, I think enjoying it at a public gallery gave me a whole different experience, which I would not have got if I had stumbled into the book or the website. In both cases, one would lose a lot without the scale and the ambiance of walking around a big room looking at the drawings. Also, with the website, one loses the impact of experiencing the pictures in combination with Channing's words and quotes which accompany each picture. In my opinion, the art and the words feed off each other and the words complement the art, instead of detracting from it. No doubt, the art can stand by itself but the words helped me understand the artist's thought process better and hence helped me appreciate it more.

From waves to horses to soaring eagles to doves and cranes (and even cranes of a different kind - see last picture in her online gallery), the drawings draw you into a world of motion (or should I say a whirl of motion), leaving the viewer breathless. And then she slows it down a bit with the portraits, also often portraying motion (especially liked the one with Seiji Ozawa conducting) but more cleverly, with the the human touch perhaps bringing it down to a quieter more reminiscing feel and a less ferocious end.

A wonderful exhibition. Half an hour or so of pure joy! Ferocious and full of life.

P.S. Some of her work is also
in a Flickr album but I am not sure if this is someone who knows her who has put it up there with her permission.

Chaos is the law of nature. Order is the dream of man -- Henry Brooks Adams

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