what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
I am considering this today because I am still working on a large painting based on Gaugin's Vision after the Sermon (also known as Jacob Wrestling the Angel), and I have been reading a lot about how this particular painting was very much influenced by Japanese woodblock prints, particularly those by Hiroshige and Hokusai, which led Gaugin to develop what he thought of as non-naturalistic landscapes.
In all three images the perspective is skewed and flattened. There is very little shadowing or contouring, and the elements are quite contrasty.
I am always interested in how a viewer "reads" a painting. With regard to Gaugin's visionary painting, it seems as though the eye reads from left to right, immediately pausing on the struggle in the upper right corner, then because the angle of the tree leads back to the other side, the eye moves back tot he left, but only as far as the woman who is closest to the tree, probably because her gesture mirrors that of the tree branch. After that we see more women and then the cow. What is the significance of the cow? Traditionally the cow is a symbol of a passive and docile nature. Perhaps Gaugin is implying that the nuns are merely part of the human herd?
The key component here, or the focal point, is the struggle between good and evil. One explication claims that "Jacob is the artist, the anguished soul who tries to reveal the secrets of the life, and has to confront nature itself and battle it for them." (Marina's Gallery)
If I tried to copy this painting in a strictly visual sense, it would be a tedious task. But I find it to be challenging to begin with a text-based background, add linear embellishments and pigment, to create a new entity. The more I understand the reference painting, the more I should be able to interpret it in a somewhat new way. And, perhaps more importantly, in the same way Gaugin was influenced by the Japanese artists, my work will be impacted by all of this input!
I will close today with this interesting video about the difference between Art and Craft. (Just click on the paragraph below...)