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Review Of The Exhibition Chagall: Stories Into Dreams

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The exhibition, Chagall: Stories into Dreams, features a style of art that is identifiably recognized around the world, is on view 29 September 2018 – 6 January 2019 at the Polk Museum of Art in Lakeland, Florida. The aim of this collection of work is to offer a glimpse of Chagall’s envisioned dreamscape that is heavily induced with folklore and fused with oracular symbols and narratives. It achieves this by bringing together works from The Art Company in Pesaro, Italy.

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In the introductory wall-text, the Polk Museum states: “His renditions of the world are inflected with shards of memory and fantasy, and his illustrations of familiar narratives purposefully reject the obvious moment most artists would choose to depict. ” They hold true to that theme. The exhibition presents 42 works of arts, including Chagall’s complete Story of Exodus color lithographic suite and his renowned illustrations from his Fables of La Fontaine series of etchings. Two afflatus paintings that inspired the artist are L’Inspiration and Duex Tetes. These works reveal boundaries of art and of archetypal texts that Chagall re-envisioned. They shed light on religious stories and non-canonical representations of them.

All the work on display is separated into two inclusive spaces with three walls pertaining to the artworks. The walls varied from a gray tone to a red-like tone. The exhibit has an eerie sense of ground to it; it feels incomplete. The exhibit is very small, with a range of about eight walls, including frontal and back viewing. Though the exhibit is so enclosed, the use of space is perpetual. For example, the gray walls have the Fables of La Fontaine series of etching. The works pertaining to these walls are black and white in a sketched-like design. They share dark-like features and composite perspective. These walls carry pieces such as The Raven and the Fox, The Fox and the Grapes, and The Wood Cutter and Mercury. Fables like these were presumed universalities of their morals and very few artists, besides Chagall, could portray such love across cultures. The red-like walls take an interest in The Story of Exodus. The brighter toned walls take a step in the color of direction. The artworks burst with yellows, greens, blues, and reds. The works pertaining to the walls such as Miriam Took a Timbrell, the Tablets of the Law, and Moses and the Burning Bush, introduce scenes from the second book of the bible.

Overall I found this exhibition to be one that is impressively well done. The separation of the 42 artworks is done so with intense study and great care. Everything fits perfectly with the theme of the exhibit. From folktales to perspective to art, Chagall represents such creativity and reveals greater truth about humanity.

18 May 2020

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