Alexandra Bronte Newe
Artist: Andrea Arnott
Exhibition: Outlines and Inner Corners
Media: Graphite, Drawing & Painting, Oil Painting
Gallery: CSULB School of Art, Gatov Gallery West
Andrea Arnott is an undergraduate student at Cal State Long Beach. Within the college of the arts, she studies Drawing and Painting and is working to earn a degree in this field. Arnott enjoys drawing and exploring the mediums within sketching, however she has a passion for oil painting. She says that through oil painting, “you can create beautiful rich pieces, it’s like driving a really nice sports car, everything about it is nice” (Arnott). Arnott’s work explores the idea of figurative realism, in that she aims to capture the essence of what she is seeing while incorporating metaphors into her work.
Her exhibition at the art gallery consisted of three works conducive to a whole. Each drawing was a self portrait of Arnott depicting a progression of some sort. The first piece was entitled Bouquet, a black and white graphite and white charcoal drawing of the artist. The subject’s expression looks content and is very done up with ribbons in her hair, and surrounded by luscious blooming flowers. The lines are very soft and muted , adding a cool temperament to the piece. It is a very calming picture. The second drawing in Arnott’s exhibit is called Prune. The same subject now is in undergarments only, and her hair is still done up, but in a ponytail as opposed to tight knit braids. It is interesting to note here that the flowers which were in bloom and full in the previous drawing, are now beginning to wilt and the overall feeling of this progression piece is dull and dreary. While the lines and shading in this work are similarly soft and sinuous, as with the first piece, there is a darker atmosphere to it. The subject’s expression seems to have changed from one of content to that of sadness and she appears to be going through something painful. We finally move onto the third drawing, Wilt. The subject is now completely in the nude with her hair down, clutching now dead flowers. Similar to the latter pieces, the artist maintained soft and curvaceous lines, characteristic of realism, however the subject appears to be lighter, almost glowing. While the flowers around her are dead and dark, the subject is shaded lightly and stands out, contrary to the other pieces where the flowers were the objects that stood out. Although her expression still appears to be serious, there is a strength resonating from this piece.
Arnott’s work primarily explores two ideas. Through the progression of the drawings, the subject loses more clothing, becoming more exposed, but the flowers slowly wilt around her. Arnott explains that a cut flower is “a metaphor for a relationship as well as self identity” (Arnott). When we initially get into a relationship, we tend to only present the best and easily acceptable parts of ourselves. As depicted with the first drawing, we are done up nicely, and aren’t as exposed to the other person. While it may look beautiful, like the flowers surrounding the subject, it leaves little room for self expression and freedom. Throughout the relationship, we expose more of ourselves. The side that may or may not be as pretty. Arnott illuminates this through the subjects loss of clothing, and the wilting of the flowers. Finally, we see the end of the relationship where the subject is completely naked, symbolizing compete freedom from any barriers. However the flowers around her are dead. In order to be free, we need to accept the parts of us that may not be “pretty” or “beautiful”. Going into the second meaning of this piece, Arnott describes how we have multiple versions of ourselves that we show to society and to others. Each drawing portrays a different face that the subject is presenting.
I truly resonated with this piece as a while. I believe that more often than not, we need to sacrifice things in our life to achieve a greater good. Freedom from ourselves and freedom in a relationship both require a “nakedness” in that we need to show every aspect of ourselves. And if society or the person in the relationship cannot accept us, then they, like a flower, will wilt and die. I am sure we can all vouch that there are parts of ourselves that we keep hidden from society, our friends, our significant other, and even our own selves. And while we may appear nice and made up on the outside, we are not truly free. It takes risk to fully expose yourself to others and to oneself, but it is a true determinant of character.