I’m in the middle of a series of posts discussing the following:
• How God’s visual world is made up of various combinations of the seven visual elements (line, shape, form, value, color, texture, and space).
• How artists seem to emphasize certain elements until their works are defined by the unique way they present those elements, and
• How those elements are used in art and how they reveal to us eternal truths about God.
In this post I am focusing on SHAPE. Shape is two-dimensional space enclosed by a line. Shapes are inherently flat with definite edges. SHAPES differ from FORMS in that FORMS are inherently three-dimensional. The natural world is made up of FORMS — not SHAPES, but you can see SHAPES suggested by forms. A sphere, globe, or ball suggests a circle. A cube suggests squares. A box suggests rectangles. So a shape can be seen as an “abstraction” of a FORM.
While SHAPE plays a dominate role in all three of these paintings, it is in Blue and Grey Iceberg that we find a composition that is reduced to its most abstract presentation of SHAPE. Value is the only other element employed in this painting. In Autumn Cottage and the landscape by Oquist we see all of the elements used, but they are kept minimalized so that the trees, buildings, fields, and water are presented as clearly defined shapes. The overall sense that we get from these paintings is one of controlled order and clean definition. There is no ambiguity. Everything has its place and fulfills its own role beautifully.
As I alluded to in the post on LINE, the clearly defined edges of SHAPES reminds us that God is a God of boundaries. Every object has its own place and function. Each item exists only where it exists. In recent years there has been increasing assaults on social boundaries. The humanist society in which we live does not believe that boundaries come from God’s plan and order for life on earth. Consequently the boundaries between male and female, married and unmarried and the boundaries that determine what it is to be alive are attacked daily. Only time will tell us what the result will be of violating the ancient boundaries.
We also learn about the importance of relationship from such beautiful presentations of SHAPE. Each SHAPE in these compositions is only important and meaningful as it exists within the whole of the composition. There is no real star — no single focal point in these paintings. Each shape gets it significance and meaning in its relationship with the whole, and yet each SHAPE is vital to the whole. Just so, we were created for relationship. We are each to fulfill an important role as a member of a community and in preparation for the Kingdom of God.
Next week we will move our discussion from SHAPE to FORM.