August 6, 2011

Hovinaiset - taulu, jota ei voi kokea kuin ajattelemalla

Diego Velasquez: Hovinaiset [Kamarineidot], 1656. Teos kuvaa hovin arkea. Päähenkilönä 5-vuotias prinsessa. Kuningas ja kuningatar heijastuvat peilistä. Taiteilija on kuvannut myös itsensä vasemmalle. - - Mutta kuka, ketkä tai mikä todella on Velasquezin maalauksen tai pikemminkin hänen maalaamisensa varsinainen kohde? Ketä tai mitä se lopultakin representoi?

Michel Foucault'n analyysissa [Sanat ja asiat, ensimmäinen luku] Velasquezin Hovinaisista representaation keskus paikantuu taulun ulkopuolelle. Keskus on välttämättä näkymätön, sitä ei sellaisenaan voi tuoda kuvaan, sillä vasta siitä käsin kuvittaminen tulee mahdolliseksi.

Foucault'n mukaan representaation keskuksessa kolme 'katsomistoimintoa' lankeaa yhteen: 'mallin katse hetkellä, jolloin sitä maalataan, näkymää tutkiskelevan katsojan katse sekä maalarin katse hetkellä, jolloin tämä sommittelee maalaustaan'.

Yhdistämällä taiteilijan, mallin - Hovinaisten tapauksessa hallitsijaparin - ja katsojan asemat maalaus houkuttelee kuvittelemaan näkymän kahteen suuntaan. Kuvassa näkyvät ihmiset katsovat kuvassa näkymätöntä paria: 'koko maalaus katselee näkymää, jolle se vuorostaan on näkymä' - [sitaatti Niin&näin 2/2006 - Teemu Ikonen: Diderot ja yhteisön paradoksi].

Las Meninas (Spanish for The Maids of Honour) is a 1656 painting by Diego Velázquez, the leading artist of the Spanish Golden Age, in the Museo del Prado in Madrid. The work's complex and enigmatic composition raises questions about reality and illusion, and creates an uncertain relationship between the viewer and the figures depicted. Because of these complexities, Las Meninas has been one of the most widely analysed works in Western painting.

The painting shows a large room in the Madrid palace of King Philip IV of Spain, and presents several figures, most identifiable from the Spanish court, captured, according to some commentators, in a particular moment as if in a snapshot. Some look out of the canvas towards the viewer, while others interact among themselves. The young Infanta Margarita is surrounded by her entourage of maids of honour, chaperone, bodyguard, two dwarfs and a dog. Just behind them, Velázquez portrays himself working at a large canvas. Velázquez looks outwards, beyond the pictorial space to where a viewer of the painting would stand. In the background there is a mirror that reflects the upper bodies of the king and queen. They appear to be placed outside the picture space in a position similar to that of the viewer, although some scholars have speculated that their image is a reflection from the painting Velázquez is shown working on.

Las Meninas has long been recognised as one of the most important paintings in Western art history. The Baroque painter Luca Giordano said that it represents the "theology of painting", while in the 19th century Sir Thomas Lawrence called the work "the philosophy of art". More recently, it has been described as "Velázquez's supreme achievement, a highly self-conscious, calculated demonstration of what painting could achieve, and perhaps the most searching comment ever made on the possibilities of the easel painting".

"Las Meninas" is self-aware in the sense that:

1. The painter paints himself;

2. The paints his own act of painting.

3. The object of the represented painter's gaze (the subject of his painting) is the invisible authority that makes his painting possible, indeed, that authorizes all activity, including representation, in Spain: the king and queen of Spain who can be seen in the mirror behind the painter.

B. The self-awareness in "Las Meninas" reinforces the code of signs that grounds representation in 17th C. Spain. It does not put this code of representation into question.

C. More rigorously, however, one must say that the painting in fact constructs the fiction of a hidden king who stands behind all representations and authorizes them.

D. The philosopher Michel Foucault gives an excellent analysis of "Las Meninas" at the beginning of his text, The Order of Things (Les Mots et les choses).

Michel Foucault read Diego Velazquez’s painting Las Meninas as portraying a paradoxical relationship between reality and representation. In his interpretation, he constructs a triangular relationship between the painter, the mirror image, and the shadowy man in the background. These three elements are linked because they are all representations of a point of reality outside of the painting. However, by adding Joel Snyder’s rigorous analysis of perspective in Las Meninas to Foucault’s triangle, an additional, equally important, element presents itself: the canvas. It, as well, has a place within Foucault’s triangle. The canvas builds a second triangle within Foucault’s initial triangle that complicates Foucault’s reading and adds to Velazquez’s paradoxes of representation. The second triangle renders the viewer even more scattered between multiple focal points and even more confused because none of these focal points are wholly real or true. Las Meninas becomes a sort of hall of mirrors, controlled by Velazquez the artist.

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