Feb 142008

It’s funny how a piece of art in one branch of the discipline can lead to ramblings on another, in a different branch. About a year ago I browsed videoart.net, a website dedicated to an eponymous offshoot of cinematic artistic expression, watched a few videos, and even registered. There are some stunning clips there, and it’s worth a visit. One episode in particular (can’t remember which) caught my attention: recorded by a hand held camera, it presented a series of takes and images seen from first person view; one of the scenes dwelt for a few seconds on the shoes of the camera person, from the exact same angle that you see in the painting below.


still life wooden shoes Netherlands


Cut, next scene. A few months ago I watched a cute indie film called Me and You and Everyone We Know. The protagonist is a young woman, an aspiring video artist, who meets a guy, later to become her love interest, who sells shoes (another convenient coincidence). At one point of the movie a video art piece fills the screen and, behold, the shoes again, seen right from above. I realized right there that this is a generic recurring motif, a prevalent visual metaphor used by the artists for self-referential purposes, among others. The movie cemented in my memory the existence of an exciting art form and how shoes may relate to it aesthetically and conceptually.


still life old running shoe


The difference in Jiddje’s paintings, however, is that the shoes displayed in his work do not cover any feet. But this is where a method acting principle fills the void (and I promise to end this moving picture rampage): some actors interviewed on Inside the Actors Studio claim to adhere to the “from the outside to the inside” doctrine, choosing apt shoes being the first step in character building and transformation. What I want to say is that the painter, just like that video artist and the actor/director in the movie encourages us to “fill in” the shoes, and take the risk of impersonating someone else, if only in our imagination. Walking in someone else’s shoes may be a single most powerful lesson in empathy, they remind us all.


still life red shoe high heel


As if to further this idea, the artist paints footwear made for both sexes, from various historic periods and social settings. He covers a wide scope of topics within a narrow category, creating a sense of satiation, locally cathartic in a way, especially considering the above context. The shoes themselves, however banal, may imply many folk wisdoms and sayings. A painting thus receives the status of a keyword in a subject index, the book itself being the mind and memory — and the desire to fertilize them with new material.

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