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Herbert Baglione's Shadow Art

Words:

Edd Norval
November 21, 2018

Shadows follow us around like spectres. They are a document of our every movement. A shadow is also a place in our mind, studied by psychologists and, like the physical ones, they're symbolic of darkness - a life separate, yet tied to us.

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Pre-eminent psychoanalyst Carl Jung done extensive research on the 'Shadow'. For Jung, it was all the parts of ourself that we would rather not acknowledge as being a part of us. We do this, consciously and subconsciously, to halt feelings of pain and anger. It is how our brain deals with unpleasant things, yet it is also the part of the brain where these unpleasant thoughts manifest. Creatively speaking, the shadow in art is the anti-hero or the villian. In life, it's a compulsion to give a smart answer back when we should keep our mouths closed.


For Baglione, it's a device whereby he can explore these thoughts and feelings and allow them to leave his mind and enter the physical realm. Too much shadow is bad. He's letting his out to play. As Jung wrote, "Everyone carries a shadow, and the less it is embodied in the individual's conscious life, the blacker and denser it is." The Shadow, by all manner of means, is worth getting acquainted with.


It's not just in the recesses of his mind that Baglione interacts with his shadow, rather he paints his pieces in the forgotten and hidden parts of our built world too. It's often in derelict buildings and abandoned areas that his work roams.

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His figures, covering both floors and wall, are elongated and emaciated. Their spectral presence stretches out between rooms and spans various surfaces as if its arms are reaching out to grab you - passersby are at the whim of their desire. In 2013, Baglione was working on a project called 1000 Shadows which found a home in a psychiatric hospital in Parma, in the North of Italy. His vision was for the darkness, these shadowy entities, to 'bring light' to the places that had otherwise been forgotten. It's a way for others to try to understand the place of shadow in their own life. By examining and embracing it, they too can live a more fulfilling life.


The shadows aren't static for the artist, but rather an amorphous method of interacting with his surroundings. He says that, "The 'reading' of these places allows me to take the shadow to a unique path, which usually feeds and broadens the discussion because it brings light to the abandoned environment, and so I put the name of this series as “The path that the soul takes.” The idea for the name came from a conversation I had with my brother (William Baglione) about the places to do these installations. It is as if the soul is leaving an invisible trail on these places."


By choosing such unorthodox locations, it leaves the audience wondering about what these figures represent. Are they parts of our minds or remnants of the energy that people have left behind? Despite their apparent danger or feelings of menace, we can't help but be curious about these figures. It seems that their story hasn't yet been told, that they need us there to be able to finish telling it.

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