This semester for Art Appreciation we were asked to attend a museum and find a picture that catches our interest. I attended the Zimmerli Art Museum in New Brunswick, New Jersey and while browsing the many different rooms and pictures the museum had to offer I came across one piece I really liked. The piece I came across is called Mask Sorry by Natalia Nesterova. I decided to choose this image because out of all the other pieces of art I saw I felt I had a connection with this picture.
I feel that many people could have a connection with this piece of work because it seems dark, and everyone has a little of a darker side to them and this image shows that perfectly. Not only was this image on the darker side, but it was also very mysterious, and things that have a mystery are interesting to me. Natalia Nesterova was born in 1944 and she is considered a modern Russian artist. She graduated from Surikov institute in 1968 and immediately she made herself known for her unique style. Starting in 1991 she became a professor of the Russian academy of theatrical art.Order now
She often attends and participates in exhibitions, including youth exhibitions. Because she was a professor and enjoyed attending youth exhibitions makes me think that her artwork is to help a younger generation express their feelings in a unique and mysterious way. Mask Sorry specifically is a piece she did using oil on the canvas, and this piece is definitely unique. I think this image is more of a figurative piece, she want’s people to try and figure out what message she is giving. Over the years Nesterova’s paintings appeared to have a religious motive with a kind of mysterious disguise. Her large canvases are composed with a minimum of subject, expressive colors, metaphoric and mythological signs; everything remains mysterious, carefully hiding the true meaning with not a single answer. ” This description of her artwork perfectly describes Mask Sorry from beginning to end. To me, Mask Sorry has a few meanings.
This piece makes me feel like at this time in Nesterova’s life she could have been hidden and going threw something she may have not wanted other people to see. Or like I said earlier she could just be gearing her work to a younger group of people to show them they are not alone with feeling hidden.
In Mask Sorry there is a mask of cards covering the face of which could be a man or woman. I say it could be either male or female because if you look at the picture close enough the fingers are very delicate, along with the slimness of his/her neck. It could also be a male because the width of the shoulders is very broad, and most men are built with broader shoulders. The cards covering the face makes me feel like this piece is talking about a gamble. Maybe there was a gambling problem involved, or maybe the cards are used to say life is a gamble.
Usually anytime cards are involved in any game its always a gamble because you never know which card you’re going to get. In this case the gamble taken must have been a bad one because the image is very dark. The main focal point of the picture, which is the mask of cards, is even darkly shaded In many parts, along with the body being very dark and eerie. Many of the parts shaded on the face makes the sign of the cross. Like I mentioned earlier some believe that Nesterova has religious motive to her artwork, and I feel this is one of them.
When priests give ashes or pray, they usually make a sign of the cross on your forehead, exactly like the shading in the cards show. Something else I noticed about the cards is that the face is split in two sides, the left side of the face is red cards and right side is black. This shows there are two sides to the story, Maybe the red cards could represent feeling like you’re actually living and having blood flow threw the body which you need in order to live. As where the black cards could mean that you are stuck in a tough situation and you’re left with darkness, or the unknown.
Something I noticed and found interesting is the fact that the eyes and mouth are painted in black. They say “eyes are the window to the soul” and clearly there is no soul in the eyes of Mask Sorry, along with having no thoughts to speak, but If you look closely at the mouth on the left side the mouth is tilted up a little higher then the right. The right side, which is the darker side of the image, has more of a frown. Same thing with the eyes, on the left the eye is placed higher which could show things are looking up and getting better, but the right side is placed lower, which could he/she is running out of hope.
Although this is such a slight tilt in the eye and the mouth I do think that she did this purposely for the viewer to think about. The background of this image on the other hand is different from the rest of the image. This part of the picture very muted and neutral, this could mean that although he/she was delt a bad hand of cards there is still a chance to turn their life around. The viewer could also see that the hands in this image played a huge role because although it is not the main focal point of the painting, the hands are a lighter section that the eye is drawn too.
Because the hands are jagged and painted with anger brings me to believe that the hands are near the neck for a reason. Maybe Mask Sorry is ready to call it quits and that’s why his hands are so close around his neck,or you could look at it from another perspective and guess that Mask Sorry has been forgiven for his sins, hence the cross on his forehead, and now its close to his time to pull his mask off and show his true identity. If I were to choose which it would be I would say he’s trying to get ready and pull the mask off and change his/her life for the better.
While doing some research on Nesterova’s other pieces of art I came across a piece called Human Masks. This image is very similar to Mask Sorry except in this image there are seven men all wearing white and instead of their eyes and mouths being blacked out, they are pained in white. Also, they are playing a game of cards and three of the seven men have dolls in their hands, which are similar looking to Masks Sorry. You can tell the atmosphere here is much happier, I feel these men are holding dolls with masks that look similar to Mask Sorry is because their masks are now off and they are ready to start moving into a different direction.
They are playing with what their life used to be and making moves towards a better experice. Although there are still cards in this picture which may again represent gambling, one of the men are looking at the card almost like he’s trying to choose which card he’s going to place down next, which shows he has a chance and a choice weather or not he would like to use that card. Not only did Human Masks look similar to Mask Sorry, I came across many other pieces of Nesterova’s, which even had the same mask as the one in Mask Sorry.
She clearly enjoys people to think about her art when she uses this mask in many of her images. Each image that I saw looked similar each made me feel differently even if it was using the same exact face. I’m happy that I choose to attend the Zimmerli Museum and that I happened to come across this image while being there. Like I mentioned many times Natalia Nesterova Is a great artist, she makes people use their imagination as to what her images mean. When I first chose this image I thought this paper would be a lot harder for me to write.
I didn’t see the picture for what it really was, I just saw an image I enjoyed and an image that I thought looked interesting enough to write about, but when I actually had to re draw, shade, and color the same image it gave me more of on insight on how dark the image really is. I had the chance to recreate this image and because of that my imagination of ideas of what this picture could have meant went wild. This was overall a great experience for me, and i’m happy I ended up enjoying this assignment more than dreading it.