Symbolism in painting – signs, understatement, artist’s sadness
Initially, the ancient Greek word «symbol» meant a coin divided into two parts.
The two people having had halves of one coin, when they met, could recognize each other, by adding both parts to each other. Nevertheless, over time, the symbol from the conventional identification mark has become one of the most complex and deepest concepts of the world culture of philosophy and art. The theme of symbolism in painting cannot be discussed in terms of a certain direction, style, school, style....
Symbolism is the direction of art reflected in painting, literature and music. Originated in the 1870s and 80s in France, later spread to Belgium, Norway and the Russian Empire. The peak of popularity reached at the turn of the XІX-XX centuries. The term itself appeared in 1886 thanks to the French poet Jean Mauras. Sadness, self-analysis, understatement are inherent to Symbolism: as if the author is trying to draw a soul. Paintings of symbolists are collected from images appealing to the subconscious.
Symbols, symbols, symbols
The presence of symbols in painting makes the viewer think actively, use the subconscious, intuition to better understand and accept (or not accept) the idea of the canvas' author. To interpret paintings of symbolists is a very fascinating activity. Let us take, for example, the classic work - «Yellow Jesus» by Paul Gauguin, which is the key to understanding symbolism. While Jesus, the standard of sacrifice, suffers on the cross, the three peasants, as if nothing has happened, work in the field. The victim for the sake of humanity remains unnoticed.
This picture contains clear to all symbols, allegory and mystery, that the adherents of this style strive to. Religious symbols are also not alien to them.
Yellow Jesus. Paul Gauguin.
A set of typical images: life and death, angels and demons, sad clowns and other this kind of characters. Often the characters of the paintings have big, dreary, pensive eyes. Each symbol expresses ideas a person comes to intuitively, unconsciously. The color spectrum and technique are not important, the main thing is symbolism. In many ways, symbolism intersects with modernity. The principal difference is that modernism is a decorative and applied style with clear rules and features, but symbolism has a wider sense. If in modern the main thing is to see, then in symbolism - to feel. There are more metaphors and allegories in it. By and large, the style has been formed throughout the history of humanity, as symbolism was always there. For example, a halo on icons is a symbol of holiness, a dove is an international symbol of the world.
Symbolism is always a mystery, a desire to answer eternal questions. As Leon Trotsky said, it is «the desire to forget yourself, to be on the other side of good and evil.» Another example of the painting, written in the style of symbolism of the contemporary artist Vitaly Shupikov - «Depression».
Depression. Vitali Shoupikov.