chiaroscuro, light and storytelling

Art travelling …

this time to Lambeth, in South London. A street called Lambeth High St. Once perhaps it was a high st but now it’s really a back street. “Nothing to see here” you think as you wander down the street close to Lambeth Bridge and just acrosss the river from the MI5 HQ…

Except there is, or was, last weekend when i popped in to The Workshop, a big warehouse that’s now  a “new temporary community and events space in the heart of Lambeth” featuring all kids of pop ups.

I went to see an exhibition and wanted to share with you a large drawing by London artist Anna Chiarini because it illustrates really well what I am interested in, the cinematic aspects of art and cinema’s roots in drawing and painting.

image copyright Anna Chiarini, photo Gillian McIver all rights reserved

Here we see a group of people sitting together under a bare light bulb. Anna has used strong contrast, – chiaroscuro – to create a highly dramatic effect. Immediately your imagination is fired up. Who are these people? What are they doing here? You start to write a story in your head.

Are they an underground anarchist cell, waiting in the cellar for their chance? Or are they hiding from the police? No, they are the last survivors of an apocalypse, sharing the last drops of beer before the End…  I don’t know, and nor does the artist, because   the drawing makes you imagine – worlds lives, stories, characters …

The trick is in the lighting. Manipulate the light and you create a story. Light is the visual building block of storytelling… it indicates time, tells you what is important to look at, and suggests what is now hidden but – in time – may be revealed.