Cultural expression

a loose categorical grouping of musical, visual, structural, and performing arts not limited to any specialized field. An eclectic assortment of my tastes and musings.

Focus on genre: Westerns (3:10 to Yuma)

  The age old saying, “If it isn’t broken, then don’t fix it” Is alive and well today especially with the executives in the film studios that produce these paeans to iconic genres. The strict formula that they  follow to produce these films can be easily traced back to older precedents that; if are not captured on celluloid then can surely be found within the pages of timeless stories, plays and dramas that may well have been devised since before the time of Christ. The structure which they follow has been so firmly established and often repeated to perfection that one must only piece together interesting or juxtaposing plot lines with interesting circumstances for the main and minor conflicts within the story and finally sprinkle some common parallels throughout the movie to give viewers something they can hold onto that’s it familiar to them. Then, with these “new” elements, simply place them into the archetype for whatever genre that is desired. A solid film that we will be dissecting within the confines of this paper is the 2007 remake of the 1957 western, 3:10 to Yuma. Within the following paragraphs we will dissect the inner workings of this movie and find what parts are common to the genre that it pays a very valiant homage to.

               As with most westerns the plot line involves a quiet man that is down on his luck who is occupied only with the daily business of living. In our case the protagonist is Dan Evans, a farmer and crippled civil war veteran who is raising his family on a tract of land that has been prepared to be sold to the local railroad company without his consent or objection. In a horrible season of rampant drought he needs to grow an ample yield to free himself from his mounting debt and save his homestead. Dan Evans is also trying to maintain the structure of his family during this struggle. He is battling for position with his wife about being a proper man and breadwinner while trying to maintain his fatherly status amongst his children who are testing their limits to establish themselves as equals in their manhood. Dan had become crippled as a result of his service to the union army during the civil war and the circumstances under which he was injured are not revealed but they did result in him moving very far from his home. This is an interesting sub plot because it is not made clear to the viewer why his family has so much underlying content for his authority or being. The story clearly illustrates that Dan Evans is at the end of his moral fiber and is desperate to redeem himself and rescue his family from the bleak future that so closely awaits them. This plot line (and even sub plots) is highly typical of most western cinemas. These situations do a good job concrete the dire circumstances that may have been commonplace to a contemporary of this time.

               All these events set up the arrival of the hero’s salvation within the guise of the anti hero, who in this case is an outlaw murderer, Ben Wade. Ben wade is typical of this genres antagonist. He is very similar in many ways to the hero and they share many common thoughts and experiences but the antagonist just cannot accept any other way of life. The path to catharsis for our hero is clear and straightforward. In order to get redemption in the eyes of his family; the hero must face old fears, daunting odds, tough decisions and even the prospect of constant death to meet the challenge and win the life which he deserves. All of which can only be given by the hero’s counterpoint. The stories subplots are progressive and usually weave in and out of the destinies of the main characters. They (hero and antihero) both must deal with internal and external strife, moral struggles, deception from their respective camps and a growing fondness for the others character making their previous ways of life even more strained in the knowledge they conjure together. All of the minor characters have their storylines and always end up in the same manner. The good side often loses a very likeable and trustworthy character adding tension to the hero’s camp; while the bad side will battle amongst itself to satisfy its own lust for power which will usually bring about it own demise in the end. And while these new and exotic circumstances are unfolding, we the viewers are given some very familiar and relatable scenes to use to establish credibility and identity with the characters.

          Another important aspect of the genre is the eternal givings that have become the calling card of that type of film. These common thread experiences aim to give the viewer a familiar event to hold onto to help give the film a sense of credibility and fullness. In Westerns the stereotypical thoughts that arise are about but not limited to; steamy locomotives, ambushes, saloon scenes, gambling scenes, prostitutes, quick draw showdowns, expert horsemanship, and “trail life”. All of these segments are contained between the opening and closing credits of this movie but also within other movies. This creates a familiarity with the world the director is presenting to the viewer.

               So in summation, it is clear that these events have previously been done many times over with so many variables and approaches in preceding films. So why then do viewers still watch and rave about a film that we as moviegoers are already too keen to what will happen? The answer is not that we like to watch the same events unfold over and over again or that the idea of the West is an appealing escape from a very different world that we all occupy today. But the life of this genre deals with the reality of the human story. The overcoming of hardship for virtuous reasons is the driving force to genre. The iron will of the frontier can be tamed but only by a certain type of individual is always a tied in theme and promotes a sense of strength and hope that justice and righteousness are found in the most unlikely of situations and every man can make the future they wanted

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An impression of the stageplay: the Baker’s Wife (using major tenets from Aristotle’s “Poetics”)

I  had not previously been to a theatre to view a play before this evening. I was not excited about the prospect of a two hour long musical. Admittedly though, after the first ten minutes of the production I was hooked. I rather enjoyed the characters and their roles within the story. I think this play should receive more than the cultist following that it has.  My favorite character was the town’s unscrupulous mayor, the Marquis.  I had an easy enough time following the storyline and the characters progression. I was keen on the techniques we had read about and seen on television in our chapter on the Greek tragedies/comedies and how the methods closely related to the story.  

Alhough I am not entirely sure that this story is a direct reflection of the classical definition of the word Tragedy it does loosely follow some of the same principles: The main character and protagonist Aimable Castagnet is a character that doesn’t get presented with any negative connotation. He is a commendable man whom leads a virtuous life as a simple baker. He deeply loves a woman that is much younger than him and does his best to supply every moment of her day with his love for her.

            The Hamartia of his character is that because he is so nice he may seem boorish and naïve to both the townspeople and his young bride. He is politely mocked by the townspeople about their age difference and eventually through his bread making wisdom the antihero (Dominique) enters the stage by way of the Marquis. He is the polar opposite of the main character and sets his sights on the baker’s young wife.  This ultimately leads to his downfall which is the part when Dominique who was secretly courting his wife both leave in the night and Aimable inadvertently burns his shop.

            This represents the Cathartic change Aimable undergoes as he is struck down from his own existence and falls into despair. He does not work or maintain his proper social etiquette by drinking heavily and losing his bearing with the town. But this is also where the story does not follow the tragic definition any longer. In this story the townspeople whom had taken great issues with one another were faced with the responsibility to put their prejudices aside and aid their baker in winning back his wife.  In the end all was resolved and everyone was happy.

For more information you can consult this link ( http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Baker’s_Wife ) to read the synopsis and a general overview of this stageplay/musical.

Faces of Asia: A Study of Photographer Steve McCurry

 

 One elemental rule that governs every living being’s life here on this planet regardless of culture, race, beliefs, species or wealth is time. We are all bound to use whatever amount has been allotted to us while we are living. Time cannot be domesticated or controlled, the only option we have is to capture it and reflect upon what that particular moment means to us. This is the business of men like Steve McCurry. Steve McCurry has been at the “ground zero” of photojournalism for nearly thirty years. His timeless works have captured the distant lives and faces of those whom we would never normally see in our lifetimes. His subjects are foreign to our Western eyes and their customs are distant and intriguing but if you set aside these differences in appearance and custom then we can clearly see, perhaps most clearly of all, ourselves. Why do these photographs continually spellbind us so? How is it possible that simple reproduced picture can have an impact the travels far beyond the aesthetic and into the very psyche of the viewer itself? Do these personal scenes ask something from us? And if so what do they want to convey?

           “A picture says a thousand words” is a popular cliché that is used almost to the point of meaninglessness, but what if a single picture really can tell a person’s life story? What if it could speak to us? What would it tell us? In this world of “life in the fast lane” and instant gratification we go through our days without the slightest stray thought about all of the other places, cultures, struggles and triumphs that happen in the world. In its place we “multitask” and “teleconference” to comply with “deadlines” and “enterprising opportunities”.  World renown and respected photojournalist Steve McCurry captures these images with an eye for beauty and substance that has few equal. He has routinely developed some of the most haunting and introspective views into the lives of people from all over the world in various states of living; power, despair, love, death, and hope. His “eye” chronicles the lives of those whom we would never have seen or given thought to and demands we face them and in that moment share something that is so intimate and delicate, we share ourselves.  How can a mere portrait made from paper and various chemicals cause such an internal stir within us?

MOTIVATION:

          McCurry’s motivation is from the perspective of both a dedicated artist and a historian. As a historical chronicler he must assert himself into the very crux of where history is taking place. He possesses a true passion to reveal the unspoken side of historical event s and give both a face and ultimately a voice to the “unseen” participants that often get swept up into histories path. This human oriented spirit lends itself to his true expressive powers as a photographic artist. As a photographer, McCurry so wholly becomes one with his subject that he is then in a unique perspective to be surrounded by people who are unaware or detached from what he is doing and carry on their lives as normal. From this vantage he is then free to capture the images that can easily define a region or at the very least bring attention a situation far better than any figurehead or mass communication could vocalize.

Audience:

          I believe these images of simple and oft time’s impoverished people are meant for the ones who are merely unaware of their existence. For me, I felt that his work reaches its maximum potential with those of us who have more benefits and luxuries in life than the persons pictured. I think his work is meant for core nations in the western world primarily. These personal and engaging portraits would likely have little effect if they were shown to someone who is, for instance, the neighbor of one of the subjects. His work does far more to those who upon viewing them can take a long and calculated look into the alternative versions of human life that are not so easily seen from the vantage of an office desk or from a computer screen and then be stripped of their comfort and have to be face to face with someone in such a personal way. This proves to have a cathartic effect on the viewer in that throughout their plight or struggle or poverty they still have the same basic needs and desires as anyone else. In this way McCurry lets us all know that there is a big world out there and we are only after all a small portion of it.

Journalism or art?:

         Marshall McLuhan once said that the “medium is the message” and in that context I do not believe there is a decisive difference between both journalism and art because they neither can exist without a usage of the other. Art is a form of journalism in that it reports a thought or sentiment that is captured in the mind of the creator andrendered onto the chosen medium. Art more than anything else can exponentially magnify the emotional meaning and intent of any piece because of arts nature to “speak” to a portion of our mind that is not overtly accessed by the hearing or reading of words. It can play on our fears, fill us with joy and love or leave us moved and saddened. These intrinsic qualities are what make it so valuable to this end.  Solely reporting without the usage of some kind of iconography or thematic visual aid could not deliver the same message with all the intent that the writer, or editor would have devised. This is not to say that writing by itself cannot create a similar situation in one’s mind through the use of creative and strategic word choice. but as a visual creatures something very personal happens when we are shown a glimpse into art.

Framing and Conclusion:

  They framing of the artists work is the crucial component that makes it as extraordinary and powerful as it is even fifteen or twenty years later. McCurry’s technique gives the viewer enough surrounding information to provide the basics of a back story for the subject but not enough to really know definitively. This is accomplished by the proximity of the subject in the portrait. He puts us (the viewer) closer and more intimate than we would likely be with almost anyone except our family and loved ones. He somehow pireces our comfort zone and leaves us no choice but to partake in the exchange. We cannot be protected by our status, or prestige and we must meet and engage this person on equal terms. The realization that this is a real human being that did not rehearse this picture or do anything other than be at this place at such a specific point in time somehow burnishes a feeling of concern or worry that they are safe and not in need almost the same way you would care for a family member. His pictures take away the defensive walls that humans build and let us see each other in the “unguarded moment” as Mr. McCurry says where very real feelings of compassion and kinship spawn for each other on a species level. After viewing this exhibit my idea about his work has changed tremendously and I am deeply satisfied that I have had the chance to view this exhibit and formulate these conclusions.

Interpreting the main “schools” of Buddhist Art. Gandhara, Mathura, and Amaravati

  The rising belief in Buddhism That spread greatly through India during the first and second centuries had spurred a renewed artistic fervor to illustrate the enlightened one and relay his message. During this prolific time emerged three main “schools” in India that had developed their own particular styles and distinctions. These were the Gandhara, Mathura, and Amaravati schools. Each region had fashioned their own technique in how they would portray the Buddha in their craft. Although, even with these differences there remained a set of distinctive parameters or lakshana that could easily define the piece as a Buddha notwitstanding what country you were in. In all there were thirty-two distinguishing features that needed to be expressed to give the piece validity. These ranged from specifying the color of the individual, to arm length, hand gestures and even identifying marks on the body such as wheels or chakras which are depicted on the palms of the hands.        

  Since those early explorations into Buddhist artwork the religion had gained much attention in neighboring countries and lands far away from its original inception. These places; such as Sri Lanka, China and Korea all needed to adopt their own “iteration” of their god as did the early Buddhists of India so long ago. In response to these countries need for icons, there is an amazingly similar approach to the tenets that the original schools practiced that has seemed to transcend time and culture while preserving much of the sentiment that was ingrained by the founding artisans from India’s past.        

Sri Lanka        

Parinirvana of the Buddha, Polonnaruwa, Sri Lanka

 

 In the “Parinirvana of the Buddha” (9-35) a giant rock-cut statue of the Buddha is hewn from the side of a rock face. The Buddha is lying on his side and displays many Indian “markers” or traditional motives. The Piece has a soft and dreamy appearance that has no real hard or sharp lines of definition in the body or clothing lending a hallmark of the Mathura school of technique. The Buddha’s body is soft and gentle in appearance and only offers basic defining characteristics of the Buddha identity set. These features are consistent with an earlier piece done by Mathura trained artisans (9-14). This piece is further characterized by the light and almost non- existent presence of the clothing worn on the statue. It is only gently displayed through subtle lines that give a sense of the body shape beneath the robe itself. Also important to note is the facial features which take on an almost abstract appearance and delve away from perceptual realism. The hair’s abstract circle pattern and angled large oval eyes are less based in realism but more seated in conveying the intention of the piece to the viewer, again another indicator of the Mathura style. The overall intent and meaning to this piece is to impart the intensity and centrality of the theme in Buddhism while using the scale and abstract elements to convey the artist sentiment.       

China     

seated buddha cave 20, Yungang Grotto, china

 

 In “Seated Buddha, cave 20” (10-13) which is situated along a portion of the old “Silk Road” trade route in China. There is a large rock cut relief statue of the Buddha that initially resided inside a natural cave, but weathering has eroded the exterior fully exposing the work inside. This location along an inter-cultural “highway” most likely birthed this interpretation of Buddha by way of a subtle mixing of styles; Primarily the Gandhara and Mathura approaches. The clothing is a hybrid of either style because it does not have a harsh, set patterning like some Hellenistic pieces but it does still retain some rich, repetitive detail in the folding and mannerisms of worn clothing with an added amount of abstract embellishment. The facial structure more closely resembles the Gandhara style (9-13) in its sharper definition and more “Greek” move toward facial features. The nose and eye treatment closely resembles early Mediterranean art in its execution of more sharply defining facial contours in a conceptual manner. This is further compounded by the archaic smile of the Buddha that has been seen on many Greek artworks in the past.  The overall softer body tones and shaping can obviously be attributed to the Mathura style as well as the overall presentation is not as precise or discerning in proportion as some other Gandhara works.        

Korea      

Bodhisattvva Seated in Meditation. National Museum of Korea, Seoul. photo by Han Seok-Hong

 

  In the “Bodhisattva Seated in Meditation” (10-27) we have a good example of a Korean art work patterning itself in the style of the Amaravati School. Here a slight and slender portrayal of a Bodhisattva is seated in deep (as well as joyful?) meditation. This is very similar to the third school of Buddhist Indian artwork in the depiction of these more thinly bodied and delicately appointed figures.  The treatment of the garments associated settings has a conceptual feel while simultaneously exuding a light and vibrant energy through the forms. This art feels free and expressive but not bound to scrutinous detail which it does not need to relay its concept. Overall, the piece’s lacking of “trained detail” as in past examples finds itself as a fresh approach which has an uplifting and gentle feel.   

European religious edifice after the waning of the Roman empire

After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Europe found itself trapped in a downward spiral in terms of the Humanities and civil order. This was a long period of ruling warlords, transient warriors and various cultures attempting to exact their dominance in their respective areas. Some of these efforts were unique and original to the world stage and others harked back to times of familiar but forgotten order. Through this time of uncertainty and weariness many of these cultures established their influence and weaved their tale into the collective story of European history as displayed through their constructions. I will preview some noteworthy examples from Germany, Italy, and France to attempt to clarify their cultural contexts and meanings in this new age for Europe. 

Germany 

Inside Charlegmanes' chapel at Aachen, Germany

“The Palace Chapel at Aachen”  

was the primary residence of Charlemagne. Emperor Charlemagne had attempted to steer Europe back onto the path of civil and human normality which was expressed under the earlier Roman Empire for over a millennia. He had adopted the Catholic Church and ordained it as the religion of his land which was to follow and convert as he did. Charlemagne constructed his palatial retreat in the Carolingian style of Roman, Christian, and Byzantine architectural treatises. The palace reflects his deep-rooted belief in the Christian faith and simultaneously adopts the Roman Basilica style as seen in the Church at san Vitale which was reported to have a great effect on the Emperor. The interior has columns and arches that recall the Byzantine ethos which also heavily influenced the San Vitale Church. The Palace also contained a great audience hall that emulated a classic Roman forum as well. In all, the palace chapel at Aachen was trying to revitalize the late Roman Empire by highlighting the virtuous aspects of creative and varied ability while combining new emerging religious fervor and merging them into a unique blend that defines a large part of historical timeline In Europe. 

Italy 

In Tuscany, the “Cathedral Complex at Pisa, Pisan artists began work on a complex that would attempt to channel past Roman greatness to an extent as seen in the previous example of Aachen. Here the decorum was decidedly more Roman with the facades being clothed in various marbles and richly decorated in tiered columns and decoration. The Cathedral proper is designed in the classic Roman Cruciform-Basilica style and is accented on its exterior in a way that suggests the styles seen on the Parthenon or Coliseum. Multi leveled expanses of the outside facades offer their own unique differentiations in exterior layouts that include the external portions of all the buildings within the complex. The grand presentation of these worship places are highly vested in their Imperial past and offer a true recalling of Romanesque history that their culture is responsible for. 

France 

Amiens Cathedral, France

“The Amiens Cathedral” represents another distinct movement in European religious/artistic history. Here concept of  Christianity has been taken on as a high art. The churches and cathedrals of this time have become a more centralized and an integral part to community life in a way that makes them major economic and civic epicenters to the villages and towns they serve. A movement to bring praise and glory to the religion was to adopt a style of construction called Gothic which was simply a new and decidedly French style that countered the more traditional Romanesque ethos. Here this new style was used to promote the greatness of God through ornate and architectural excellence. These large cathedrals were extremely costly and highly avant-garde in their construction methods.  Every available exterior surface seems to be covered in a symbolic pictorial homage to a teaching or parable from Christ and the Bible. At a time when illiteracy was rampant, these illustrations no doubt helped reinforce the sermons delivered in the pulpit and warned of the revenges and rewards the pious and sinister would befall in their final judgment. The exteriors generally revealed more of a skeletal framework from which windows and ornamentation where displayed rather than merely impressing the overwhelming scale and heavy presence that was custom until this point. Light was now a more valued commodity and with the usage of stained glass the desired mood of salvation was better achieved and appreciated. Also new techniques had to be used to cope with the drastic architectural changes. The walls where now higher, thinner and topped by sharply (and large) inclined spires and roof systems. Accordingly, new buttressing techniques were developed (flying buttresses) to ease the pressing forces of natural physics that were in opposition to these lofty and ornately delicate structures. Also important to note is the perfection of various vault types and styles that carry the weight of the megalithic creations.  In summation, the art of religion and human ingenuity peaked at the same time in France in the middle ages. This style was a clean break from tradition and placed new value towards functionality and art in the sphere of everyday use. 

Giotto di Bondone’s fresco: “Lamentation”

   

"Lamentation" by Giotto do Bondone (1304-06). Image courtesy of http://www.giottodibondone.org

 

Giotto di Bondone (c. 1267-1337) was a highly skilled Italian painter who is considered to be a founding contributor to the renaissance in Europe. He was known for his masterful rendering of his subject’s faces denoting their expression and intent but also he favored to paint his subjects in more naturalistic poses which was not common for commissioned artists to indulge in. His magnum opus was his ornamentation of the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua Italy of which this choice comes from.  

     Giotto certainly lived in a very turbulent time for the arts in Italy. It must have been a time of great longing for the traditionalism of past styles and the uncertainty and anticipation of the newer, then, avant-garde styles emerging from the minds of these young artists. Artists who recreated these religious themes must have felt pressure from their benefactors to produce works that respectfully displayed those sacred events in a safe and familiar way, but still yearned to make a personal statement and add dimensions that had never been fully explored to their pieces. The painting of these religious appointments was an honored task among the artisans of the day. The measure of a prominent artist in this time was reflected on his demand by the church (which often had the funding to dispense for such commissions). And in his day, few were able to take their visions in the same direction as Giotto.  

     As stated earlier, the environment Giotto lived in must have teemed with creativity in all aspects of life. It was the beginnings of a new era where the reemergence of old customs and forgotten knowledge seemed to have no end. Italy was the epicenter for the “rebirth” of humanity in the western world and with all the remembrance of civilizations past came a new inflexion of modern ideas that stood in conflict with the older ways. Society in this time was recovering from the notions of serfdom and fiefdom and was heavily exploring the limits of its new circumstances. Art was now being produced in new and creative styles, styles that suited the creator of the piece and served not merely for institutional purposes but for art’s purposes. People again had the time to devote their lives to the pursuit of such artistic creation and expression.  

     This work itself embodies all the markers for the Italian renaissance from which it was created. The fresco method is a firmly rooted in Italian religious artistry. A frescoist uses the medium of semi dried lime mortar or plaster that acts as a binder to secure the desired pigment (the pigments were only mixed only with water to dilute them) and applied directly to the binding medium. The subject (the lamentation of Christ) was a popular image at the time that conveyed the pain, anguish, and confusion in that pivotal moment in Christianity. These scenes may well have been meant to “center” and reaffirm the believer with the use of such clear and striking presentations as enabled by their technique. The interior of the chapel was completely engrossed in these Christian scenes making these images widely viewable and vividly emblazoned on the minds of the patrons of the church.  

     The images (characters, environment, etc.) are rendered in a solid color and then either highlighted or low lighted in the same base color (only making hue changes to show darker or lighter areas). This suggests that the availability of quality pigments or specific pigments must have been bountiful then. The technical use of the elongated Christ depiction was a standard practice to denote his prominence in the scene and was certainly not a Giotto innovation but a collective tradition in painting and sculpting that harked from the Egyptian method of modeling important figures in scenes. Also the folding of cloth as fabric does when worn is a possible skill learned from Classical/Hellenistic Greek art where motion, light, and action were important to capture. The sharp usage of space and line to draw attention to the center are virtues common to renaissance art as well as the sharp usage of the fore, middle, and background in the painting. For example, in one corner of the work there is a dry tree perched on an up sloped hill diagonally bisecting the painting that (in this native region) represented death and drew the eye towards the main scene. This technique would have been a universally understood visual cue for the viewers to follow. The heads of all important Christian figures were highlighted with a golden halo to name them to the viewer as the expression of their faces seem to have so much to say to the viewer. The clarity with which one can derive the emotion and reaction on any of the faces within say much for the ability of the artist and what was important culturally at this point in time for Italian society. Giotto did add his own unique perspectives to the piece with the angelic figures in the sky above the crowd. He masterfully painted them flying in varying directions with each one having their own perspective and horizon point.  

     The solemn and excited nature of this artwork that combined with the fervor in which Christianity was spreading during this time was surely able to help drive the point “home” to the common people of the time. Reading was not a normal ability at that time yet (especially for common people) and the best way to reinforce the verbal teachings which were being delivered from the pulpit was to have visual examples for believers to contemplate about. There is no doubt in my mind that all who looked on the lamentation walked away with all the intent and energy that Giotto had envisioned his work would generate.

In the courtyard of the Masjid-I Jami: a study in beauty and precision

   Mosques are a sacred pillar in Islamic life and are living centers for civic and religious ceremony. They serve as schools for children and adults alike; they also host community, social and political functions. They can be thought of as a place of worship, wisdom, and fellowship. The Masjid-I Jami or congregation mosque in Isfahan Iran is one such mosque worthy of note. It was created in the 10th century and has steadily evolved from its start to fit and suit the needs of its population. This is not to say that the work completed on this edifice has merely been structural. There have been many great additions to the visual appeal of the mosque during its time to further deify and celebrate Allah and his role in the Muslim way of life. This mosque is a visual celebration of Islamic culture and this author will attempt to define some key areas that make this important fixture a work of living art.  

Seljuk brickwork patterns on the Masjid-i Jami in Isfahan, Iran. Photo courtesy of http://www.islamicity.org

 

  The FORM of the example is expansive. This mosque is a largely executed attempt to accommodate the male population of its community. It is a simple building which is then elaborately decorated by its caretakers or expanded to fulfill the needs of the community. The LINES are straight and precise for the general framework of the building. They are perpendicular and parallel in such deliberate quantities that a feeling of structure, safety, and ultimately righteousness can be found in its visage. This strict and functional canvas of structure compliments the COMPOSITION that the artisans have created in the way they have used a multitude of muslim muqarnas (a type of stacked niche) set along great vaulted arches. These features have within them even more niches that all of which tell a story or relay a quoted scripture from the Qur’an.  

Facade covered with Kufic inscriptions and intricate tilework. Photo by Sojta Serjber, panoramio

 

  On this particular “canvas”, the MATERIALS and TECHNIQUE used to decorate and define this mosque are simply staggering. The façade is completed in a cobalt blue mosaic background with high levels of detail executed in contrast to the base color. There are borders of the mosaic tile around the arches and niches that serve to define the structure as well as design “themes” that differ based on where they are located (i.e. flat walls have a “basic” carryover design which then changes when the pattern reaches a minaret or dome, it then becomes more geometric in its appearance). The amount of visual data presented is truly overwhelming to the human eye. The painstaking amount of tedium that was needed to set these individually carved and cut pieces of tile and then place them in such a precise order so that they could resemble a required shape or even the Kufic Language is a masterstroke to the artists that created this monument.  

   The use of COLOR choice on this work is both striking and befitting of its purpose. The locale around this building (geographically speaking) is muted and generally restricted to earth tones. In defiance, this building stands in high relief to its environment being mainly composed of a deep blue mosaic covering. The Contrast in colors is a beacon to all who are within sight of it and serves as a constant reminder to its faithful following.  

   The area this community place occupies for its intended purpose is forever changing throughout its lifespan. The entire structure is devoted to ease the fundamentals of its religion and to allow for all way of procession to occur within it. Theses borders can then be expanded according to the needs of its following. This is an example of how SPACE was used when conceiving this artwork.  

  This has been a small summary of the basic components needed to objectively rate an artwork for what it and what it was meant to be. My rantings on this lovely mosque are by no means the only interpretations that can be concluded and are far from the results that an in-depth and scholarly study of the structure would derive. This writing was presented from a more generalist and amateur enthusiasts viewpoint.