"Reaching Out" by Annie Zhai
Reaching Out is a piece about connection. I wanted to illustrate the emotional distance that people must bridge in order to reconnect after drifting apart. I was influenced by Michelangelo, and took inspiration from the posing of his figures and his subject matter.
As a prolific sculptor, Michelangelo paid special attention to the musculature and proportion of his figures, and posed them in a way that told of their emotions before their faces did. Michelangelo created his work at the time of the renaissance, a period of artistic rebirth inspired by the ancient Greeks and Romans. Since so much of the work I appreciate is from the renaissance, I wanted to incorporate the Greek goddess Aphrodite (otherwise known as Venus to the Romans) as a symbol of love and connection. I wanted all of the surrounding figures to reach for this love and connection, as it represents the lengths we go to in order to maintain and forge new relationships.
Another aspect of the piece that I wanted to focus on was the sky. I have always had a reverence for the sky as it is something both constant and surprising. The sky is a universal expanse that everyone knows, and it makes me feel both impossibly small and endless at the same time. In Michelangelo's work, the sky is often made tangible, with figures seeming to float upon the clouds. In Reaching Out, I also wanted to introduce a sense of tangibility to my sky, and convey a feeling of warmth and luminosity in the sky. I took inspiration from the colours of the sky just before sunset, bringing in some pale pink and yellow hues, as well as a muted purple for texture and depth. The warmth, love, and connection that Reaching Out conveys hold personal importance to me, as I find that I relate to the figures that are grasping and reaching out and trying so hard to maintain a connection that they become a part of another's story rather than their own.
Oil on Canvas
Size: 18" x 24"
Artist: Annie Zhai