Kathe Kollwitz is regarded as one of the most important German artists of the twentieth century, and as a remarkable woman who created timeless art works against the backdrop of a life of great sorrow, hardship and heartache.
Before i start, did you know that Kollwitz knew Lu Xun? hahah it’s a random fact I found out at the Lu Xun museum during my 3 month immersion last year.
Nevetheless, this is a woodcut depicting people in hunger by Kollwitz. I came across this painting when searching Kollwitz. Well personally, I like artworks that are especially emotive as i like the relation between literature and arts. anycase, in this woodcut, Kollwitz uses strong lines to bring about the idea of the emotional suffering in which her subject matter is going through. The faces consuming the lady in hunger emphasises on the torture in which she is undergoing. This idea of an object consuming another influenced me quite alot as can be seen in my coursework under the theme Results Centred Happiness. Here’s the short write up from my prep board.
In this piece of work, I endeavour to depict how most Nanyang Girls place too much emphasis in the attainment of good results. The overall concept of this linocut was inspired by a movie that I watched entitled “Drag Me to Hell”. In the movie, the woman never escapes the arm of the evil spirits. Similarly, students of our school never seem to escape the notion of the need to attain straight As. Thus, I decided to depict an anguished girl being engulfed by flames and trying to reach into infinity for her grades. I also decided to make many copies of this picture, file it in a file and then mark them using very harsh remarks.. This was possible as linocut allows for rapid reproduction. Therefore, not only does the print reflects results- centered happiness, the file also shows everything a student never wants to hear or see, thus stressing the idea of the importance of good results to a student.
Indeed, I admit I was more influenced by the movie than Kollwitz initially, however, Kollwitz’s style is rather notable in her way of cutting to present the idea of agony. She uses harsh lines across her canvas to make the viewer identify with the pain the subject matter feels. Though i ultimately did not employ these harsh lines in my work, i tried to use a different way, which was to overwhelm the viewer with neater strokes. I admit that I am not daring enough to use harsh strokes like Kollwitz as I do not really have the guts and confidence to make such strong decisions on my lino. so perhaps this is an integral learning point for me in that I really need to learn to be less reserved.
In addition, there is an unequal amount of positive and negative space in Kollwitz’s Hunger. This could possibly be because she wanted to show how the black and darkness of the entire situation is more overwhelming. I tried to include this in my own linocut by including more negative( black) spaces in my artwork.
I also feel very inspired by the movement of the lines she uses, which would be a good reference for me when I was trying to portray smoke engulfing my student.