Saturday, July 14, 2012

Dad's Art

While discussing art marking with my mother in China, I inevitably thought about if I had done any art project with my father.  Thinking of my dad, the first image I had was always his reading or writing at night, by himself, or occasionally to me and my sister, usually during the time when my mother had to work on night shift as resident doctor, one night shift every four days.  Dad often read for us fables and fairy tales by the likes of Pushkin or Aesop.  He has always been more a man of letters and words.  After my parents' retirements, Mom has taken up paintings while Dad is spending more time on calligraphy.

However, I do remember one particular "art project" Dad worked on, when I was very little and alas, those experiences actually were near traumatic for me.  I grew up in a materially scarce time and the electricity could go out often and every household had candles for such occasions.  Several times, when this happened, Dad would pin several large sheets of newsprint paper on the wall, and drew with ink and brush the silhouette of our enlarged and dancing head shadows cast on the paper by the flickering candlelight.  The golden glow of the candle light was mystic and the productions of those shadow profiles were both intimate and strange.  Those moments were magical.

Yet, the solid black mass on paper was terrifying for the timid me and I do admit freely that I was often scared by my dad's such endeavors, though I did love it when it occurred. I had the same aversion at the time to the dark and twisted, yet immensely wonderful and intense drawings by Käthe Kollwitz.

After I had enough life experiences of my own, many of them bleak and stark, I obtained great appreciation for the psychologically penetrating art of Kollwitz, and for the simplistic yet fascinating shadow profiles created by my dad.

Inspired, I made such simple shadow drawings, just for fun:

Shadow Profile _ 8235 - 500

Shadow Profile _ 8236 - 500


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