Sublime in the outside world: James Guppy

Essay by delmoHigh School, 12th grade August 2009

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I believe sublime is word that describes something of vast magnitude also I believe its something rare and out of the ordinary, like something you don't see everyday. This greatness is often used when referring to nature and its vastness. An artist's experiences, beliefs and motives are reflected in their art work. Many artists use their talent to show others a sublime image.

One of these I believe is sublime is by James Guppy. This work is not just paint on canvas, it conveys a message to the viewer from past experiences and his emotions.

His painting is called smoke signals. It's a painting of smoke. He uses oil on canvas. It was painted in 2006 some of the major events that year were; Typhoon Durian - The storm killed at least 720 in the Philippines, North Korea they did a nuclear test, Mumbai train bombing. There are no objects in this painting, just smoke, some fire and some sky.

The colours in this painting are greys, whites, blues and reds. The shape that has been created is a soft cloud like shape, with no defined edges. Its day time, you can tell by the sky in the background.

James Guppy has used dull dark and light colours to create a realistic looking image. They add value and contrast to his work. James has created an illusion of texture that makes the smoke stand out he does this by highlighting the light areas with darker colours. The overall visual effect creates harmony and unity.

James Guppy says we live in disturbing times. For the last few years my work has been exploring the unease shadowing our lives. We seem to be surrounded by this pervasive, fear-fed hunger for doom; fuelled by the mawkish tendencies of the media and politicians.

The news on our screens and the special effects in our movies are filled with clouds, always clouds. Clouds erupt from disaster after disaster. Smoke clouds from burning buildings or raging bushfires, clouds of dust and debris from volcanoes and exploding munitions, clouds of water from cyclones and tornadoes. Hidden behind, beneath or within these clouds is an approaching menace. Doom is clothed in clouds. We don't see the exploding wreckage, the torn bodies and dismembered lives, just the ominous beauty of these billowing veils shrouding Armageddon.

With these new works he wanted the audience to be floating. The paintings needed to be large to fill the viewer's vision. James says, "By removing the ground I wanted to create the sensation of being up there in the clouds, immersed in the seductive chaos and disruption."Another work I believe is sublime is by Méret Oppenheim's Lunch in Fur, it is perhaps the single most notorious Surrealist object. Its subtle perversity was inspired by a conversation between Oppenheim, Pablo Picasso, and the photographer Dora Maar at a Paris café. They were admiring Oppenheim's fur-trimmed bracelets, Picasso remarked that one could cover just about anything with fur. "Even this cup and saucer," Oppenheim replied.

In the 1930s, many Surrealist artists were arranging found objects in bizarre combinations that challenged reason and summoned unconscious and poetic associations. The Lunch in Fur is a cup and saucer that was purchased at a Paris department store and lined with the pelt of a Chinese gazelle. The work takes advantage of differences in the varieties of sensual pleasure: fur may delight the touch but it repels the tongue. And a cup and spoon, of course, are made to be put in the mouth.

A small concave object covered with fur, The Lunch in Fur may also have a sexual connotation and politics: working in a male-dominated art world, perhaps Oppenheim was mocking the prevailing "masculinity" of sculpture, which conventionally adopts a hard substance and vertical orientation that can be seen as almost absurdly self-referential. Simultaneously attractive and disturbing, The Lunch in Fur is shrewdly and quietly aggressive.

Overall these to Artist to me have created sublime artworks.

BibliographyJames Guppy Guppyéret Oppenheim'séret Oppenheim's