“All Art IS Advertising”

2 Mar

“Interesting. . .” I muttered aloud as I step back from the giant paint-splatter canvas to get a better view.  Twisting my head this way and that, I fruitlessly try to draw meaning from the abstract piece–as though viewing it from a certain angle will make the real message of the painting magically appear.

After a few minutes and NO epiphany, I reluctantly move on.  In the span of 30 feet and a half hour, I have traveled through Africa’s sculptures, Egypt’s pharaohs, Asia’s jewels and Europe’s masters in the Dallas Museum of Art’s galleries.  That must be a record.  Though, I am still a bit perplexed with the placement of Egypt beyond the rest of the African exhibit.  Perhaps, as the cradle of society, Egypt is simply given a special nod.  Still, it seems odd.  I mean, I’m not exactly a geography buff, but I certainly don’t remember the North African nation as parceled out from the continent on any of my coloring maps.  And it lies squarely at the crest of the continent on the cloth map of Africa on my wall.

I know, I know. . .”It’s part of the Middle East,” right?  And what is all of this Middle East nonsense?  I had to do some exploring.

“The Middle East (or West Asia) sits where Africa, Asia and Europe meet. The countries of the Middle East are all part of Asia.

The African country of Egypt is still thought (by some) to be in the Middle East, as well as the northern African countries that border the Mediterranean Sea.”

During Egypt’s and Tunisia’s protests, both countries were repeatedly referred to Middle Eastern areas.  What do the people of these North African countries consider themselves?  African or Middle Eastern?

I guess that would be like asking an American if he/she considers his/herself North American?  It’s kinda implied.

The next painting is composed entirely of words.  Bold lettering, odd hyphens and breaks make reading the painting just as interpretative as the last one.  Once again, I lean my had to the left to gain a better perspective.

While gazing between the words, my mind wanders two galleries back to the museum’s European section.  I seem unable to shake my fascination with one particular painting in the walls holding Picassos, Monets and Da Vincis.

It was a depiction of Adam and Eve.  I didn’t note the painter for the piece didn’t strike me as particularly beautiful or interesting.  In fact, its ordinariness was what mesmerized me.  I peered into the jaded garden and stared at the now-expected skin of porcelain and fine hair of the famous couple.  It was a replica of hundreds of other paintings of the pair.  But for some reason, this time, the depiction annoyed me.

It’s like reading a book and picturing a character a certain way only to be filled with disappointment when the director casts everyone drastically different than you imagined.

Africa is the cradle of society, is it not?  It is the place of mankind’s birth, right?  So, why then, do Adam and Eve, the first man and woman, look distinctly European?

Logic resumes: The painter is European.  He/she, of course, depicted the pair, whether consciously or not, with a likeness to him and those around him.

All artists do it.  Perhaps, sub-consciously, we all want our images to hold pieces of our legacy.

It makes sense.  And explains the prevalence of baby-blue-eyed, ivory-skinned  Biblical figures.  Since Christianity is not the native religion of people of color, these renderings have been immortalized as accurate portrayals by the masses.

But yet, each of us yearns to see ourselves in our figures of importance and greatness.  Note the emergence of Black and Asian Jesuses, Madonnas and other biblical figures.

And while these images may be closer to the truth than the classical porcelain-skinned depictions, ultimately, it doesn’t matter if these beings were white, brown or yellow: Their color doesn’t lessen or enlarge their existence.


I move on the next painting and marvel at the new sense of enlightenment and knowledge growing within, not the canvas before my eyes.

Art really is advertising.


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