All of us have come across famous art pieces via movies, news, social media etc. Have we not wondered about the stories behind those? Let us have a look at what ‘could’ be the interpretations of two strikingly different but famous works of art by three people from varying backgrounds- Noor, a college sophomore; Kumar, an assistant manager who is long due for a promotion at work; and Rajan, a retired worker who spends his time telling his grandchildren stories about the difficulties he had endured while travelling to school during his childhood days.
Number 1: The Scream
We have Noor, the burnt out kid with her flashy headphones on….
What a mood! Bestie here looks like he’s been through a lot. I feel ya bro. But at least you have main character vibes and must have lots of tea to spill about the happenings in your world. Whatever spooked you must have been some monster trying to stop you from fulfilling whatever prophecy ya got or something equally cool. But for me? My problems are not finishing a hell load of assignments on time and then failing tests. I have no idea of what’s happening in the outside world. I’m still stuck at college studying a course I have no interest in just to please my parents. Now that I think about it, the painting feels like it’s a perfect depiction of my daily thoughts of existential crisis. That sudden horror when it hits, making me completely oblivious to even the Taylor Swift music wafting out from my laptop, is what I see in my poor screaming bestie and the river flowing behind him.
Oh wait, what’s that in the background? Are there two more figures lurking in the background tryna hurt my bestie? This painting seems low-key sus, not gonna lie.
Ah, look at me, lamenting about some stupid old painting. College does this to you. Ugh, I can’t wait to graduate so that I can work a boring job for the rest of my life. How fun! Anyway, I’ll get going. You take care bestie, don’t let anyone bring you down.
Kumar: (He’s forgotten to pay his electricity bill, again.)
Now this fellow right here looks just like I did the other day, when I was strolling along that bridge near my house trying to enjoy a nice sunset. I realized I’d forgotten to pay my electricity bills and I imagine that this must’ve been the exact look on my face when it struck me that they were going to cut off power supply any minute now. Ah, how I wish I could go back to the time when I didn’t have to worry about all this. Life in college was so much simpler…
Hmm, I wonder what my guy in the painting is stressed about. Did he leave the gas on or something? Or did he spot that nosy neighbour who’s always urging him to get married, settle down, and start a family as soon as possible, approaching him from across the bridge? Whatever the case, everything will be alright, my mysterious screaming friend, I’ll be around if you need someone to talk to…
Ah! You two were reviewing this piece? To me it looks like this is one of those posters from a horror movie. Why does the person’s body look so curved? Certainly the painter is trying to convey something through the character’s timid posture right? This man looks like my neighbor’s son whenever he has to give his exams on the internet. Ha-Ha. Still, I like this artist. He has raised the paint right here. This might be just me, I feel like he paused himself when he tried to add paint with his painting knife. And here he repainted it with a completely different shade. It makes me feel like his image of the painting changes as he gets into it. Needing to paint in stronger colors, with more passion, satisfies me for some reason, like the satisfaction you get when you read the newspaper in the morning. This is certainly a glam piece; the juxtaposition of these colors heightens my curiosity which is seemingly endless all of a sudden.
But what bothers me is the price. Was this sold for $119.9m? Not to mention, in DOLLARS? Which makes it even costlier? Why would anyone spend that much money on this when they can simply paint this by themselves and add a tinge of Bru or cothas coffee powder, staining the art to make it old and vintage? Strange. I do not understand the internet nor this generation.
Now, it’s time for the OG: The curator of an art gallery…
This is a rather famous piece which many of you might have come across – The Scream by Norwegian artist Edvard Munch, composed in 1893. Munch was an expressionist artist – meaning he aimed to evoke emotions through his art. Expressionist works often depict exaggerated or distorted subjects, use a variety of painting techniques, high degrees of contrast, and raw intense colour.
These traits are hugely evident in The Scream, where we can see a distorted figure, who stands terrified at the sight of ‘the sky turning bloody red over the blue-black fjord’ in his own words. High degrees of distortion convey feelings of madness and chaos while wavy and twisting lines signify the propagation of sound (the scream). Munch also ekes out a balance between the warm reds and the cold blues. All in all, an excellent piece of art and one that truly deserves as much attention as is being given to it.
Number 2: Composition with Red Blue and Yellow
Noor: Looks like the kid’s gotten a new pair of headphones to show off…
Dude I made something exactly like this while I was in 3rd grade, no cap. But my then art teacher said it was trash and asked me to draw a bowl of fruits instead. If it wasn’t for him I would have become a famous modern artist and a millionaire by now. Just look at this painting, it speaks to my very soul. The blue part represents some work that has to be done, the red part signifies the time I spend crying about having to do it, because it’s difficult and I’m scared I’ll mess it up, the white part is me procrastinating and believing that this particular work doesn’t define my worth and the yellow part is the amount of effort I have to put to get the work done finally. Ah it’s nice to know that I’m not alone in procrastinating and overthinking stuff. Now this is a masterpiece because it represents a myriad of emotions- all stages of grief in getting something done.
Why did no one tell me that you could become this successful as a modern artist? The other day, I saw a “modern art” painting that looked like something a 5 year old child could have come up with. I could draw better than that in my sleep. Look here god, whoever you are, please give me back the fame and reputation I was supposed to achieve. I’ll even offer burnt offerings, please just get me out of this life. Bonus points if you make it extra dramatic. Please bestie just do it. *continues having existential crisis*
Rajan: (back after sending a friend request to his son.)
Composition of red, blue and yellow…but what about black and white? They missed adding the two colors to the title. Curator, I recommend you add black and white to the title as well!
Caught by the curator when trying to take a picture of the exhibit, Kumar hurriedly tries to explain himself.
Oh, I am sorry. I was actually looking for tile designs, and this struck my eyes. I can sympathize with this painter. He was probably bored of the regular designs that you get from the market too. This reminds me of my house’s floor plan as well. This champ must have been an architect or something. And..Ah. I am guessing that this is a modern art because they used one of those new age tools, you know that picture shop ..ah right..photoshop, the DIY gizmo that everyone uses these days. Oh, it was made with oil and paint around 1940. Though I must say, the artist makes proper use of evocative colors for bringing the best out of his work.
Is this one of those modern art pieces the kids keep raving about these days? What am I even supposed to infer from this… Oh, oh! I got it. The red square is my manager’s office, the blue rectangle is the store room, and the yellow one is my cubicle. I’ve been working at that company for six years. Six. Long. Years. And they still cannot get me an office of my own. Is that really too much to ask for? Even the store room would be fine. But of course not, Mr. Toby doesn’t think that’s necessary. I wonder what he even does in that gigantic office of his, when he’s not bossing me around. Football! That must definitely be it. The man must be working towards his secret goal of becoming the next Cristiano Ronaldo. Why else would he need that much space?
Anyway, back to the painting. This artist must definitely have wanted to rant about capitalism. People like Toby earn as much as the red in this painting, and us ordinary middle class people have to slog day in and day out just to earn as much as the yellow, stuffed in some corner of their huge corporate building. What’s worse, the best we can hope for is to earn as much as the store-room blue, some day. Oh, wow, I should probably quit my day job and see if the museum needs a new curator. ‘Cause I sure am good at establishing heartfelt connections with these paintings and artists! Maybe I’ve finally found my calling in life.
Lo and behold! This is Composition with Red Blue and Yellow by Dutch artist Piet Mondrian. Composed in 1930, this piece serves as an excellent example of Mondrian’s venture into Neoplasticism – an art form where elements of painting were only used in their purest form. That is, there was no room for colours other than Red, Blue and Yellow, and only horizontal and vertical lines were used. Mondrian reasoned that he wanted to cultivate a practice of ‘Universal Art’ that could be understood by any person regardless of their cultural background.
In this piece, we have three horizontal lines of slightly varying thickness and two vertical lines. The big block of red, which blares with energy, signifies power and rich emotion, is thoughtfully balanced out by the blue which soothes with its calm demeanour. The yellow peeks in from the far end, cute and cheerful. Other interpretations of this work also exist but all of them point to one fact, though – that Mondrian overestimated the ability of fellow human beings to understand his new style of art.