Revelation from Reproduction

My reproduction of Miles Johnston’s Countercurrent had given me revelations on how people can interpret art differently. The beauty of art is that it is open to numerous understandings although they may be sourced from a single painting. Unless an artist pinpoint his or her own purpose and meanings behind work, the audience is free to use their imaginations and analyses. 

While investigating artists who focus on concepts such as emotion and strangeness, I came across Miles Johnston, a conceptual artist and illustrator whose expertise is in surrealism. His surreal art explores psychological transformations in portraits and figurative images. He describes that, in hindsight, he has “always been interested in anything that helps to transform my perception of the mundane.” 

Miles Johnston works primarily in graphite and oils, using the human form as a way to attempt to process the intensity and profound strangeness of the collective human experience. The distortions and transformations his subjects undergo serve to illustrate the experience of our internal state during crucial moments in our lives, which is an element that captures his audience’s attention. His other works are also very inspiring to me, as the surrealistic and strange atmosphere of his paintings is what I would love to also achieve. The various sensual emotions and ambience of his art make his works captivating. 

I realized how many different interpretations there can be for a single object by reflecting on my thought processes while reproducing Miles Johnston’s ‘Countercurrent.’ His ‘Countercurrent’ in oil paint, with only half of the women’s faces above the water, adds oddity to the surreal atmosphere and a sense of discomfort resonating within emotions. My interpretation of the meaning behind this painting was the sense of being lost. Johnston’s own purpose behind this painting, however, is not promulgated, which leaves audience with open interpretations. By using my own perception of his work, I reproduced his painting in acrylics.

While reproducing the artwork, I recalled the video that I had recently watched, a child of the age of 11 from Ukraine having to cross the Polish border alone. The child walking along the borders crying by himself under the grey sky was truly emotional in the sense that the child at a very young age had to experience the brutalities of human conflict as its innocent victim. I was heavily inspired by the emotional difficulties and the sense of being lost that one may feel during such a crisis. I tried to present this by depicting the person that faces a point where no other gives attention to as the courageous Ukrainians who stand up to fight for their values. Using the facial expressions of the subjects to represent the emotional pain and difficulties that one may go through during this brutal conflict, I painted their distressed faces. The water represents the Ukrainian’s mixed feelings towards their situation, which have the possibility of drowning them with negative emotions. Whatever the artist’s initial intentions were, I had an interpretation of my own in the process of this reproduction. 

Through this process, I was not only able to learn more about the artist of his dark and deep themes. I tried to free myself from the limitation of the purpose behind the artist and use my own while creating this piece, which made the process more interesting than before.  This reproduction has encouraged me to reflect that there are many different perspectives and interpretations of art when there are no descriptions and that art could be as meaningless and the most meaningful simultaneously. His psychological and surreal style and focus have inspired me to continue discovering my own art in a similar field. 

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