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Bomb and Victims (1967) - Vancouver Art Galley Formal Analysis

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Xiaoqing (Sunny) Chen

Professor: Chris Ewart

Formal Analysis

#1 Nancy Spero, “Bomb and Victims”, (1967)

“Bomb and Victims” is located on the right hand-side of the third floor at Vancouver Art Galley. Spero’s work is part of a section called “BOMBHEAD.” The huge, bold title is printed in black on a white wall in the front of the third floor entrance. It gives me a sense  of solemnity. There are large number of works about the “BOMB” exhibited. Among those works, “Bomb and Victims” draws my attention. I think it is the most significant one to symbolize the theme, “BOMB”, because “Bomb and Victims” intensively shows the emphasis of the atrocities of the Vietnam War. Spero’s work renews my interest in the word, “dystopia” and how the Vietnam War influenced people physically and emotionally. Therefore, in other words, Spero’s work was made to act as manifestos against the Vietnam War. (Martha Rosler)

Firstly, “Bomb and Victims” was drawn with mainly warm colours, which are red and dirty-orange. Even though the colour tone is warm, the painting gives me a feeling of panic. It is a strong contrast through colour tone and real mood of the art work, since red colour is a symbol for blood and violent, the colour orange of the painting seems like metamorphic blood. At the top of the painting, there are two female half-bodies with red eyes and look like suck people’s blood up. I interpreted them as a evilness that hurts people physically and also psychologically. There are corpse and fragmented bodies are drawn on the bottom part of this painting. Those bodies are bleeding, especially the vital part of human body, which make audiences feel uncomfortable and painful. In the painting, I can imagine the awful situation of the Vietnam War at the time, for instance, some people are died and some people was trying to elude. It is an embodiment of dehumanization and dystopia. Moreover, when I see the painting closely, I will see many damaged bodies on the ground. But if I walk few steps back, then I realized that the shape of Spero’s painting is atomic mushroom clouds, which it is a representation of “Bomb” and the War. I regard it as a progressive deformation, for example, people see the destroy of a country apparently, but if people get deeper into it, they will see the cruel torment of every resident who was involved with the War, which is more signifying the atrocities and the section’s theme, “Bomb”.

#2 Emily Carr, “A Young Tree”, (1931)

“A Young Tree” is an oil painting by Emily Carr. The painting is exhibited on the fourth floor at Vancouver Art gallery as well. The art work is part of the series of “Emily Carr: Deep Forest. There is a little light in this floor, and arranged with a dark green wall, which gives me a sense of classicism and vitality. In addition, it was also filled with mysterious atmospheres that make me feel like I was passing through a space-time to the past. A vast number of tree-paintings are on the wall. “A Young Tree” is the first painting that I noticed. It gives me a expressive feeling, due to the colour choices.

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