Dark Fantasy - Themes in Brooke Shaden’s Room Series
The mythical, the allegorical - a dark fairytale, a fantastical narrative. Brooke Shaden’s inner world is a thing of dark beauty.
Shaden’s studied compositions and interest in narrative in her fine art photographs draw comparison to the imagery and aesthetic concepts of the Pre-Raphaelites (ca. 1850) who sought to escape conventional, commonplace artistic modes in favor of detail and complexity in composition and theme. The female figure was a favored subject, with compositions often focusing on themes of destiny, the self, fate and death. Rather than depicting an idealized figure, the Pre-Raphaelites favored the real human body and gave accurate depiction of the natural world. This naturalism in combination with their love of symbols and complex, elaborate, narrative compositions resulted in uncanny imagery that later had a great influence on the surrealists, especially Salvador Dali.
One of the best known Pre-Raphaelite paintings: Sir John Everett Millais, Ophelia, 1851-52, oil on canvas
Similar themes, evidence of the influence of Surrealism, as well as a focus on the female figure are all elements of Shaden’s work. Unlike the Pre-Raphaelites, Shaden works from a personal narrative, rather than pursuing historical or purely symbolic themes. Her work feels sincere; the artist is speaking with veracity and candor. In Locked, from her recent Room Series, Shaden employs allegorical imagery for the search for self channeled by a claustrophobic, tight composition. Overhead perspective is used to heighten the psychological intensity.
Viewing Shaden’s work through the lens of earlier genres and imagery gives light to the ways in which contemporary artists approach issues of identity and the self, themes that are as prevalent in art today as they were a hundred and fifty years ago.
Represented at JoAnne Artman Gallery Laguna Beach | New York.
JoAnne Artman Gallery, Presents in the Main Gallery: “Fourth Wall” New Work by Brooke Shaden January 5th, 2017-February 18th, 2017
Artist’s Reception: Thursday, January 5th, 2017 from 6pm-8pm