The Artists "Review" Artists Project was launched on June 30, 2008. Below is a "review" of Donna Dodson's work, Golden Elephant, written by James Bills. Donna also provided a second image of Golden Elephant, as well as a brief response to James' "review."
Donna currently resides in Boston, MA, and James lives in Brooklyn, NY.
If you would like to participate in this project, please email me at jtkirkland [at] gmail [dot] com.
Yikes. That is what I said when I first viewed this piece. I am afraid I won't be able to say much that is positive about this piece. I hope my honesty will not come across as hurtful. I will try to be as constructive as I can be.
Carved wood is a very traditional material, and it is hard to make it seem fresh and interesting. The carving here, to me, comes across as static and timid. The artist seems to be going for a simplification of form, an elegance you might find in Egyptian art or other ancient statues, but it falls short. The lines of the ears seem tentative. The tusks and the arms are too similar. The columnar body reads like a stiff dress. The trunk blends into the body. I've seen so many wooden sculptures where the carving is truly astounding. I feel like I'm getting the short sell here, where I am supposed to see simple forms as more important than they actually are.
The scale and painting are problematic for me as well. At 36 inches, you are in the range of either a large doll or a piece of furniture. If this was 6 feet, you would be talking monumental statue, which is where I think this artist wants this piece to be. As for the painting, the black arms versus the white tusks are too simple, the contrast too apparent. Wood is such a beautiful material and painting over different parts seems like a shame. I would have left the entire thing unpainted.
It has crossed my mind that maybe the artist is trying to be funny, that maybe this is a figure in a dress with long sleeves and an elephant head. Sort of a Nutcracker Ganesh in evening wear. If so, push that more, because that is not coming across clearly. If this was not the intent, push it the other way. Right now this piece is too tentative, stuck in between for me.
By James Bills
By Donna Dodson
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