Care to see the blueprints for hell on Earth? A series of powerful large-scale drawings by Brazilian emigre artist Ana Maria Pacheco reveals the preparation that went into her nightmarish installation, "Dark Night of the Soul," now displayed at the Danforth Museum of Art.
Care to see the blueprints for hell on Earth?
A series of powerful large-scale drawings by Brazilian emigre artist Ana Maria Pacheco reveals the preparation that went into her nightmarish installation, "Dark Night of the Soul," now displayed at the Danforth Museum of Art.
Titled "Studies for St. Sebastian I & II," the drawings depict several women huddled about a naked man with several arrows protruding from his pale flesh. In Pacheco's two drawings, which are approximately 9 feet by 7 feet, the man's face is contorted by pain while several grieving women with prominent eyes and teeth cluster around him in grief-stricken postures reminiscent of early Christian representations of Christ being lifted from the cross and carried to his tomb.
Museum Executive Director Katherine French said the drawings "give viewers another way of understanding the artist."
"These drawings will help visitors explore (Pacheco's) command of her medium as a sculptor. It helps us see what her hand was doing in another medium," she said.
While different in significant ways from the imposing 18-figure installation displayed now in the museum's curtained main gallery, Pacheco's drawings reveal the preparatory work and her own changing approach to "Dark Night."
Perhaps the single most spectacular work displayed in the Danforth in years, Pacheco's installation uses hand-sculpted logs to depict a naked man executed by arrows in a public square for unknown reasons. The dying man is surrounded by a series of lumpish figures with detailed faces and teeth who appear, at first glance, to be divided between executioners and grievers.
The installation's central figure, a naked hooded man tied to a stake and penetrated by numerous steel arrows, appears reminiscent of early Christian paintings of St. Sebastian who was martyred by the Romans for embracing Christianity. Yet Pacheco updates the current exhibition so the dying man, his executioners and the crowd could be from anywhere from Guantanamo to the Soviet gulag, from Dachau to the Salem witch trials.
While lacking the visceral impact of Pacheco's imposing installation, the recent hanging of 10 of her mid-sized etchings and five very large prints complements "Dark Night" while providing insights into its creation.
Pacheco's small etchings and large images reveal her mastery of various creative media and her continuing fascination with several similar grim motifs.
For "Domestic Scenes," which was made in 2000, she has created 10 dry point etchings that suggest the victimization of women through numerous recurring archetypal figures, such as the woman in need, the brute and grasping adults.
In several large prints from a series called "The Longest Journey," Pacheco places curious figures who might be acrobats or prisoners in precarious positions. As in her prints and installations, these figures have detailed heads and faces and lumpish bodies.
Pacheco's large enigmatic prints and drawings seem to explore themes found in her large installation such as victimhood, public justice and private fears.