The harmonious melody of light and shadow, another perspective of art history


William Turd is famous for its expression of light and colorful expression. The picture shows his work

Briggain Lelly “Natalaraga”, 1993


◆ “Candlelight Painter” Latur’s masterpiece


◆ Monet is good at capturing the fleeting instant impression from nature. The picture shows his water lilies series

◆ Olaville Eliason is good at creating the psychedelic space of light. The picture shows his immersive creation

◆ Verhem Hammer “Indoor: Sunshine on the ground”, 1906

◆ John Constance’s “The Cathedral of the Solt Solzibury Cathedral” (Note: Some pictures are the exhibits of this exhibition)

The “Light: Tate Museum Collection Exhibition” at the hot exhibition of Pudong Art Museum uses “light” as a keyword in series in the Tate Collection, which has caused the public to notice such a clue that cannot be ignored in the history of art.

The exhibition spanned for more than two hundred years, extending from the driving of light and shadow in the end of the 18th century to the immersive environment created by light in contemporary art. In fact, looking at the art history of ancient times, the artist’s exploration and use of light have been carried out. This originated from the dependence and admiration complex of the light of human beings. Even if the technology is changing with each passing day, this complex is still deeply buried in the bones -this is why the immersion exhibition of 360 -degree -dimensional senses can be popular today. The charm of the light and shadow that is clearly extinguished from the ancient Plato cave, a kind of blur and escape between false and reality, a sense of dreams that are everywhere and permeated daily dreams. Just like the parallel space and contradiction of Ingma Bergman’s “Mask”, they eventually dispel confusion and contradictions with dramatic scenes and conflicts.

If you look at the art history from another perspective, in addition to the change of painting style and concept, observing how the painters handle light and shadow are an interesting and meaningful clue. For example, although the treatment of shadow is easy to be ignored, it is indispensable. The shadow does not always exist in darkness, but also in light. Therefore, before we simply talk about “light”, we might as well use shadows to connect the process and derivation of light and shadow in painting.

[“Shadow” out of the cave]

There is a shadow with light. The earliest talk about “shadow” is the shadow of “candlelight” in Plato. He believes that painting is nothing more than drawing these shadows. It is not known that this is not the real appearance of the world. When painting came out of Plato’s “cave”, it still staggered, describing all the specific objects of the outside world, and tried to “look like that” with a clumsy technique. As for the shadow? Started? perspective? It does not exist.

Later, I slowly had the concept of contours, and people finally understood that it was more realistic to outline the outline of the shape. This “outline line” may be the earliest concept of contrast between light and dark in the first painting. People who have been more than two thousand years ago have aesthetic consciousness and relatively advanced painting techniques. We can see this effect from the mosaic murals that survive the ancient city of Pompeii; It is vivid. In addition to the unique mosaic decoration and styling techniques, there is also a “shadow” treatment, making the characters less flat in the plane. As a result, the outline has depth of field.

Interestingly, the difference between Chinese and Western aesthetics needs to be mentioned here. As we all know, ancient Chinese painting does not emphasize light and shadow and perspective -this is the concept of Western oil painting. The objective reasons for Chinese paintings with a brush tool, in fact, have been wired and outlined the concept of lingering since ancient times. But the line drawing is for shaping rather than the three -dimensional light and shadow. It is more reflecting a spiritual world and aesthetic height. He praised for thousands of years. In the murals of Buddhist caves left in the era of Wei, Jin and Northern and Southern Dynasties, the characteristics of line drawing drawings are also particularly prominent. This technique developed into “gongbi painting” in later generations.

As for the evolution of Western painting techniques, after the outline and shadow of Pompeii murals, the medieval mosaic inlaid paintings and altar paintings were mostly used along the “shadow” processing technique in Pompeige mosaic. Of course, in today’s perspective, murals are not regarded as “painting” in a strict sense. It wasn’t until the 13th century that Gi Lu Di Bangdona, who was known as the “father of painting”, opened the era of painting in the true sense, that is, the Renaissance era in painting. Georoto was the first painter to paint the Virgin as a good way to sit on the chair -yes, no one had been able to draw a person sitting in a chair before him. In fact, the teacher of Georot’s teacher, Camabaya, has a sign of changing here, especially the protruding feeling of the character shape, and the composition has also had a depth effect. It is just that the works of Qibaye still seem to be rough today and have not become a systematic. Therefore, Georot is a key figure before and after connection.

【Light of Faith】


In the 15th century, Monko, who was known as one of the three former Renaissance, interpreted this “shadow” and beautifully and beautiful. Of course, it was related to the improvement of the pigment at that time. The characteristics of the egg painting well expressed the uneven surface of the characters, and the colors were soft and lyrical. This feature has been further exerted in the works of the Sanjie of the Renaissance. The perspective landscape of the mountains and rivers, or the epic of heaven and hell described by Michelangelo for Sistine’s Temple, and Raphael’s sweet Virgin achievement eternal classic … In the technique of perspective, for the first time, we saw that intelligent human beings have raised painting into a mature and comprehensive development of independent humanities with their wisdom and diligent hands, and got rid of the once “unrealistic” and “unscientific” Refers and contempt.

From this, we also know that “shadow” is so subtle for the shaping of the picture space. Therefore, we say that the so -called perspective is for the realism of the body, and it is also to be more convincing. Just like Raphael’s “Map of Christ”, Jesus, which dropped from the sky with an unparalleled aura from the sky, was moved and shocked by generations of believers. The new way of viewing created by this painting is one of the masterpieces of painting as a representative work of humanities.

The painting of classical times is undoubtedly the light of faith.

[Visual Unclear Games in the Era of the Great Seaside]

The development of everything is rooted in the soil of the times and in the architecture of the torrent of the times. We discuss the light and shadow in painting, and we must also refer to the hardware foundation provided by the development of technology at that time. The 15-17 century was a very important node in the history of human society, and it was also a turning point for humans to enter the modern process from the Middle Ages. In the past two hundred years, it is called “Geographical Discovery”, that is, the “Era of the Great Navigation”: countless fleets on the European continent set out in the ideal glory to open up the broad world, looking for new trading routes and trading partners. To develop new European capitalism.

Therefore, in the painting, there are also new technical attempts relying on new scientific discovery and academic theory, such as a “visual deception” painting method, which can refer to the “Ambassador” of Little Holbain. There is an amazing deformation skull in this prospect of this painting. If you don’t pay attention, it is difficult for the viewer to discover from the front of the painting, and when you look at it from the side of the painting, you will exclaim that it is a skull! This is undoubtedly the early 3D technology. Interestingly, the “Ambassador” painted by the little Holm Bayin, who was the Emperor Henry 8th Royal Palace at that time. In addition to the skeleton in the picture, the two ambassadors were from France. The table is covered with Turkish tablecloths, and the table has Gelast and navigation instruments, suggesting that the British and French countries have fought against the world hegemony in the era of the Great Seasons; the tablecloths from Turkey may imply that France and Turkey at that time fighting against British diplomatic disputes.

As for that 3D skeleton looks like the mystery left by the artist, the small Holbalain uses the principle of oblique light projection: when the sun is incorporated obliquely, a clear shadow will be left on the wall. Draw a gourd to describe the shadow. Later, contemporary artist David Hockni used a computer to restore this principle for reverse processing, and it really restored the normal image of the skeleton.

There is also a German painter Domel. He has a killer weapon. What is the specific real thing? Today, people may not be seen, but the “see -through window” later developed into a viewfinder, which is widely used for painters such as Rembrandt. At that time, many portrait painters in the Palace of the United Kingdom also used the principle of the viewfinder, that is, the current camera imaging principle, which can be said to be very advanced. In the future hundreds of years of art history, the impact of optical instruments and scientific progress on the field of painting will continue to be updated, and it will continue to this day.

[Dangguang and shadow become the element of drama conflict]

In the 17th century Baroque era, “Guang” officially became the main expression of art works, distinguishing the style of Renaissance. It can be said that it created a new era after the Renaissance. Not only the portrait or indoor static objects, it is worth noting that the “scene” begins to appear. Here, as an inevitable technique, light and shadow play a role in rendering and setting.


The charm of the light and shadow painting in Caravaggio is well known. Those tension sense of drama is due to the treatment of light and shadow comparison. And the contemporary George De Latur’s research on light has a religious atmosphere. Many religious metaphorical paintings were also loved by the French Louis Thirteen royal family at that time. Latur was also attributed to the follower of Caravaggio style, but his handling of candlelight made him self -contained.


Another light and shadow master is undoubtedly Rembrandt. Rembrandt, as Frander, is also a beneficiary of the Age of Voyager. The first bourgeois Republic in history (the Netherlands), the Republic of Nodlan (today), came by the independence of the Nidland at the time. The Netherlands became the center of the European economy in the 17th century. The royal family and church rule, but capital. The era of the Great Navigation is also the golden age of the Dutch landscape painting -landscape painting not only shows the status of independent theme, but also implies the magnificent chapter of Dutch art that has opened up the era of great sailing. Their landscape painting. And the Dutch art finally faces the direction of Italian art in the previous Renaissance era, that is, the theme of oil painting is increasingly secular, and more represents the taste of the citizen class of the Republic; It is the earliest consumer culture, so now we visit museums around the world, and we will see that there are always many large and small works in the Dutch school. Then, Rembrandt’s technique that uses light and shadow to contrast the portrait portrait is very outstanding. It is a simple technique without any visual deception and dramatic element conflict. He represented the tastes of the Dutch nobles.

[Go out of the studio, go outdoors]

Time has entered the 19th century, and here we have to say that we are familiar with Impressionism, including the naturalist school that affects the deep impression. “Light: Tate Art Museum Collection Exhibition” is a good summary and presentation of artistic thoughts and exploration of light and shadow at this stage. The classic works of more than a hundred exhibits include John Consta, ” “Erzburi Cathedral”, Joseph Magotic William Ting’s “Light and Color” Golita Theory “and” Hurry and Dark “, John Martin’s” Destroyed Pompeii and Herkuni “M”, William Holman Hunter’s “Awakening”, Claude Monet’s “The Seine of the Valz Port”, Vasily Cuming Sky’s “Swing” and so on.


It is worth mentioning that the exhibition brings the doctrine and manuscripts of William Turner. The process of Du Na from the composition and light source from the optical principles studying the picture from optical principles is not only perspective and technique, but also the use of pigments, color superposition of color, etc. Wait. And the landscape master John Constance is improving the changing effects of nature and the sky, and “The Cathedral of the Solzibry Cathedral” is an example. Starting from Constant, the sun appears in the picture -that is the real natural light, that is, the color he drew is the color seen in the real scenery. Another masterpiece “The Brighton Chain Terminal” has treated the light and shadow in the night very well: how does the pier in the night reflect the light and shadow? How does the moonlight echo the flames of the lighthouse? The dark mountain cliffs are reflected in the shadow, and everything can be seen.

The light and shadow of the naturalist school is much softer. For example, Koro’s shadow treatment of the outer light is outstanding. Even later Impressionism did not do better than him.

In the Impressionist painter, because of the invention of portable tube pigments, Greater artists are sketching outdoors. In addition, the further development of optics and the invention of the camera have fundamentally promoted the change of painting techniques. Color also shifted from figuration to abstraction. Another new era is coming.

Although Raphael’s former work did not face the topic of light and shadow, it has taken “light” as a certain language and concept. For example, William Hallman Hunter’s “The Shadow of Death”, the shadow of the three cross semi -meaning, conveys a kind of depression and fear.

[Modernist art of “Zhang Lan Lottery”]

Since the 20th century, “light” has become a metaphorical method, such as the metaphysical and surrealist genre, which is a certain hint and some suspense fable in him. But in general, the use of various existing finished light sources and industrial products is a new way to use the use of light since the 20th century modern art and postmodern art. In the 1960s, a martial arts were directly called “Light Art”, which showed a change of concept. The neon lights of the streets are flashing, the departure of the Debi Hall, and the carnival of the carnival … These are the lights seen everyday, but they cannot be called art -or on the other hand, why is the light called art? I still remember the shouting- “Shoot me, the proud light, wild light, drowns me.” Lazelo Moholy-Najib, the founder of the Bauhaus giant and the lamp art, in 1917 He once described his worship of light. Combining the background of that famous era, that era was advocating to break, break, and break -breaking all traditions and solid constraints, with a wild passion, and freedom and fearlessness. For the art of light, in short, the change it brings is to make the space no longer just the linear dimension of “work-audience”, but to create a space so that the audience can do in the space.

Lighting art was originally an important genre of the ause. They believed that the lamp tube was a tool that did not involve any emotional content, and tried to avoid any expression of form and media. Because light itself is also a substance that can be used for sculpture space. Its representative group was created by the 1958 “zero” art club, which was created by artist Heinz Mark and Ortoipi. Orth Pye’s “Light Ballet” series of works allows light to wear woven balls or punching metal boards, dancing in the dark room and even the theater. It can be said to be the earliest immersion space experience.

The pioneer of lighting art is the American minimalist artist Dan Flevin. He uses the blank wall as the base and uses the neon tube to form the shape of the frame or fence.

Like Duchamp, Frywin uses daily items in his art works, but he compose these materials into a new form. When the lamp is burned, it will be replaced, so the concept of an original work is subverted.


【The future is here】

Today, maybe we have to think about such a question: Is it important for contemporary art? When the painting is no longer a “painting”, where is the shadow going? They may be exhibited in a form of exhibition -it sounds incredible, but there is no impossible in the artistic field; it is not impossible to simulate and build it under the development of the scientific and technological development of the ambition. Just like Olaville Eliason has done it long ago, it has created a “sun” in the art gallery.

The concept of “immersion” is not a new term. Its meaning comes from Immersion. It was first used in the field of drama. Thanks to the maturity of the rapid technology, especially VR equipment. In the past two years, it has also been in the field of contemporary art, especially commercial exhibitions, which are hung with the name of “special exhibition”, especially like to play the “immersion” signboard.

The history of art history, film history, and other disciplines are crossing in the “theater”. The immersive theater is a comprehensive art form pointed to the overlapping of various arts during the media change. Art categories, immersive theater aims to liberate passive viewers, mobilize viewers’ senses and participate in the creation of art works. Today, they take the express train of artificial intelligence technology to truly be visually and exhibited. Perhaps in the near future, we no longer have only one definition or interpretation to describe the style of these arts, what is important is “present” -ether of the way. The only point is that for humans, there is no light, all things are stunned.

(The author is an art critic)

Source: Wen report