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Gallery Crush

Amy Ma's picture

“Would you please turn on the light?” That’s what I first thought when looking at this painting, because the general appearance of this painting is very dark. The left side is darker than the right side, so dark that you can clearly see the tiny cracks on the painting due to it is very old. A woman is bending her back, drawing water from the urn. The light part on her apron makes her apron adds some three-dimension effect, and also makes it seem so heavy. The loose clothe and the creases on it make her clothes seem worn. The white cloth on her head covers her eyes, but it seems that she is looking at the bucket on the floor, tiredly. The light comes from the open door. There stands a woman, with something in her hand. I couldn’t see it clearly. I stepped back, tiptoed, stepped forward, and crouched: no matter what I did, I just couldn’t get what is in her hand. It seems long, probably a broom. There is a little child next to her. Her fingers are thick— she probably do a lot of chores every day. She looks like a servant, not hostess of a poor family, but servant, because the woman at the door dresses the same as her. Everything looks daily: the brooms, the buckets, even the women. Everything seems routine: the women may do it repeatedly, every day.

Though it is not the best way to appreciate art, I did spend most of my time there thinking about why the painter painted this. I tried to add a job position, an age, a role to the women. I tried to relate it to my experience. From the manual, the painter is  Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin who liked painting still things and  life of the bourgeoisie. Painters from Chardin’s era often focused on more fancy things. But the daily things that are ignored, that people don’t think too much about, reveal the true life of a period of time or a kind of people.

Comparing to the paintings, I actually liked the Gallery itself more. It is finely formed, square, and modern. It is very spacious. The structure inside is like no other museums or galleries I have been to. Every part of the gallery seems to have their themes. There is one part of the gallery where there are Eastern paintings and Western paintings on a same wall, and the theme that connects them together is the use of color. Each small room has several paintings or other artifacts. This structure makes it easier to focus on a painting, or makes it easier to look over all the paintings, because small rooms make painting closer to us, and you just need to turn around in the room to look at all of them. The manuals in each room give a concise introduction of these paintings. The lines on the floor protect the paintings. They are so coherent with the gallery. They are some kind of restrictions but don’t give me any pressure of being constricted. It is not that fancy but very beautiful. Outside the gallery, there is a square pool with shallow water. Everything is square. Everything is minimalism. Everything here makes the art works in it stand out more. The spacious lobby and the small sections, the bonfire and pool outside, the square and big building with small and round letters “Barnes”, I know this must be a wonderful gallery even though I barely know about art.

For me, this trip to Barnes is one of my favorite. Another is the last trip. When walking from market east to the theater, we didn’t make any turns, but just went straight all the way. I liked that walk. Art is fantastic, amazing, and attractive, and is everywhere. Either a road to a show or a building for artifacts, compared to the show and the artifacts inside, they are probably more daily thus easier to be ignored. However, art derives from daily life. Art is not something inaccessible.