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DISTORTION & DECONSTRUCTION IN ART

ANALYSING APPLIED METHODS OF CHANGING THE ORDINARY

BY AYA BEN AMOR

PHOTO CREDITS: JENS HESSE'S DIGITAL DISTORTION ARTWORK

The deconstruction theory was created by the professor Jacques Derrida in Paris in 1960s, and it spread in American Universities in the 70s and 80s, in the aim of changing the way professors and students execute their daily task: reading.

Deconstructive writings focus mainly on metaphors writers use to prove theories or certain ideas. Their goal is to show that writers contradict themselves often through the comparisons used in their work, and those contradictions create gaps in the bases of Western culture. In other words, it has been said that deconstruction has revealed specific issues in the way philosophers, writers and everyone else's way of thinking about subjects or situations such as truth and friendship or politics.

 

The often misunderstood theory by Derrida led to splitting University departments and scholarly associations in two, on the other hand, his followers supported him by saying: "It was a little like the moment when Helen Keller first understands the connection between the signing she is being taught and meaning," yet academics that are still unconvinced with his movement call it a "cult" or a "fraud".

Derrida identifies deconstruction with hesitations by saying that deconstruction is not just one word, it's something complicated. Deconstructions are methods of accounting for the main theories and assumptions familiar to the society. He is investigating those gaps by their contradictions, for example how friendship is important but impossible, loving but not too much, etc.

AYA BEN AMOR'S PERSONAL RESEARCH ARTWORK: "CONSTRUCTING REALITY PHASES I & II"

Deconstruction in art is defined by several artists as taking something apart and reconstructing or reshaping it, and that results in creating a new dimension in various fields in art. Also, many artists utilize it as a method of expressing certain emotions or conveying certain ideas or conceptual thoughts.

The Artist Angie Morelli that showcased in Amanda Harris Gallery of Contemporary Art, uses Neoteric deconstruction as a method of deconstructing her art pieces. She deconstructs a variety of electronic devices, such as cameras, car stereos, mobiles, vintage radios, laptops and tape recorders. Morelli starts by deconstructing or taking apart the electronics, then arranging the pieces differently on a painted canvas.

 

She considers deconstruction as meditation, a way of expressing feelings of anger or a method to convey certain emotions. Also, a reaction to specific situations, experiences, or memories, since these electronics belong to friends or family members.

Angie Morelli's "Neoteric Deconstruction" at the Amanda Harris Gallery of Contemporary Art Courtesy of VEGASRadioactive

Artist Erik Pevernagie likes to deconstruct visual representations; he establishes links between events and problems that people confront every day. He deconstructs reality, transforms it into a puzzle and shows a particular interest in details, truth is in the details.

 

He creates an artistic world that hides a hinterland of interpretations. Everything is converted in such a way that the viewer looks for a clarification, but in order to give explanations, we need definitions. That artist notes however that definitions and meanings change again and again, he knows the truth and reality of very volatile, indefinite, multilayered and sometimes very paradoxical, for that reason, it's just very tricky to emit a preset definition or a fixed meaning for the phenomena in our daily life. In the spirit and the view of Jacque's Derrida, painter Pevernagie deconstructs the visual world and translates it on Canvas.

 

He places topics or subjects in a specific context and gives the ambiguous and equivocal contents, and as life itself is often indistinct and confusing, he doesn't proceed in a univocal unilateral way. So doing a spectator can engage in interpretations. The passive viewer can turn into an active participant and becomes an accomplice of the painter's deconstructions.

PHOTO CREDITS: 'THE MIGHTY QUINS' BY LOUISE SLOANE

Distortion is created by changing a certain form or norm in an art work. In the art world, to call something distorted, we must first understand the reason behind what the artist wanted to interpret or represent. Therefore distortion must not be taken as misrepresentation of certain aspects, and to understand why certain artists choose to use distortion in their art work and what is the effect of distortion on observers.

PHOTO: "SELF PORTRAIT" FRANCIS BACON, 1972

PHOTO: "SELF PORTRAIT" FRANCIS BACON, 1969

Francis Bacon's art focuses on humanity and his portrays depict humans and humanoid beings. He uses distortion mostly on the faces, painting the other parts with a lot of details.

Consequently, it is clear that this distortion is not a form of lack in his artistic abilities, but it was a calculated decision. 

Two characteristics of distortion in Bacon's early paintings are an expressive mouth and exclusion of eyes. Eyes for the viewers serve as a focal point and that has been proven by many modern eye tracking experiments. Bacon chooses the expressive mouth as his focal point, sometimes a tongue or teeth. The expressions give the painting a certain sentiment which is modified by the lack of eyes. Another tool Bacon uses in his painting is a pane of glass. The reason behind that may be to add discomfort to the observant by the cause of seeing their reflections in the painting.

Bacon's motivation to distort faces and focus on the mouth could have more to do with emphasizing on the mouth itself, rather than not including the eyes and nose. As he admits purchasing a French book that included illustrations of several mouth diseases which influenced his work. With the fact that he went through an operation on his mouth as a child caused by problems and diseases. Perhaps bacon considered distortion as the only way to get to the modern world.

Many people have suffered far more than Bacon but produced no artworks. The theories of Carl Jung may explain Bacon's concept. According to Jung, artists use distortion in art not to express the destruction of the artist's personality; rather the artist finds his personality through distorting certain elements of art. This theory is a closer way to explain what goes around in Bacon's unconscious mind, it perhaps clarifies why some artists use distortion in their artworks or paintings.

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