Artist Review: Edward Hopper

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‘Self Portrait, 1906’

Edward Hopper is a rather enigmatic artist that despite having seen his works before (The prominent and influential ‘nighthawks’ comes to mind here), had never researched, nor even discovered, before these recent bouts of artistic influence from my university associates.  His work is incredibly humbling, it depicts a world where not everything is happy, and those moments of deep inner reflection are the most relaxing thing  that someone can achieve through their lowered mental state. More than likely a reflection of his excessive struggles with depression between 1911-1923, which heavily influenced his perceptions of the world, as well as his artistic styling.

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‘Summer Interior, 1909’

Fresh from just before Hopper’s depression period, we see the sombre nature of his pieces come bubbling to the surface. The use of muted, light colours contrast a lot with the darkened, lowered head of the woman resting on the bed. She lays half naked, and looks down away from the light. There is a tension here, an aspect of isolation that is only heightened by the use of light passing through the window of the room; plunging the already muted colour scheme of the room into a darker shade, adding to this humbling atmosphere surrounding the piece.

There is something really interesting about this piece, something that resonates within me. Maybe the juxtaposition of a fragile looking girl with a darkened, turned away face from the viewer? I’m not sure, but I’d like to think so.

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‘Nighthawks, 1942’

Again, we see the trademark muted colour scheme and use of light and shadow to create a much darker, more brooding atmosphere surrounding the piece. It’s so beautiful in it’s execution, and really hits somewhere deep within me; a feeling I have experienced in a while now. It evokes a sense of sobriety, the moment late at night where one simply cannot sleep, and often finds themselves going somewhere just to be around another human being; even if they are a complete stranger, or someone they tend to dislike, just for that sense of longing and isolation to leave the mind and soul.

There’s something very interesting about night-time in the city, and the sense of subversion that comes with a city that goes silent. Of course, on a weekend the city is alive and rife with shame and a lack of inhibitions, but on a weekday, it is often silent and peaceful. Except perhaps, for the few stragglers that also feel the same way as I do, or are simply out out of circumstance or relating to an occupation. Nevertheless, no-one speaks, and no-one listens, everyone resides within their own mind at this time.

This peace is fantastic.

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