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Catalog of the Shakespeare Art Collection  --  Multi-Color Graphics on Shakespearean Themes

"AS YOU LIKE IT"
Description of Wood-cut 4 colors 12" x 18"
by Hannah Tompkins

 

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This print combines the themes of dualities, split-personalities and the 4 elements of the human psyche: Male-Female/ Good-Evil; derived from a personal interpretation of the play. 
Each of the main characters has such split counterparts, which at, at the play's conclusion are united in a harmony.

The contrast of pastoral serenity and Court intrigue is expressed in the title quote:
"Are not these woods more free than is the envious court?"
This the print engages a horizontal division in its design. The upper part shows a hermaphroditic union: a light female form (front view), being embraced by a dark male figure (profile) in a forest setting with fruit-bearing trees.

The woman's skirt also serves as a cross drape for the theater curtain (far right) illustrating that:
"All the world's a stage..."
The lower space is occupied by an angry, masked face whose division personifies a self-destructive split personality that has surrendered to evil. It is enveloped in the secret darkness of court life, suggested by the columns on a checkered floor; columns that move to the left in a transition to chess pawns.

The gloved hands holding the daggers are reminiscent of executioner's gear, They also infer that gloved insulation prevents personal, sensitized contact.

The general intimation is, that though it may be impossible to eliminate evil altogether from one's psychic structure, it car be kept controlled in a subordinate position, creating a more favorable circumstance for the positive elements to be brought into a fruitful harmony.

It is interesting to note that although the same color scheme was used throughout, it evokes opposite feelings of tranquility and violence in the top and bottom halves, respectively.

In the lower half, the light colors have been minimized, creating greater contrast between the black and orange, as in the masked head. This has the effect of animating unconscious association with Halloween, a time of occult , and sometime malevolent spirits, which traditional belief and practice tells us can be appeased and neutralized.

This is exactly what is effected by the lighter colors in the top part of the print.


Copyright © 1990 Hannah Tompkins. All rights reserved.

 

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