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Visual Art Review: "Untitled' by Manuel Vivas


Analyzing and reviewing art is absurdly difficult. Each time I come across a new piece of visual artistry, I valiantly attempt to ignore all preconceived notions I have regarding what good art is. I do my very best as an artist of my own, as well as a fan of art in general, to open my mind as wide as possible and take in all that I see without judgment. It sounds like a simple enough task, but when in the process of doing so, I cannot help but gravitate towards the notion that it is a heavyweight exercise for my mind. I used to paint quite frequently, but outside of such, I am a novice when it comes to visual artistic expression. I dabble in photography here and there, as well as mixed media, but I am no expert nor professional art critic. Who am I to judge what constitutes good art?

Lo and behold, I judge anyway. I am always up for the challenge, and this particular piece proves to be an easy feat. In this article, I will be reviewing “Untitled” by Manuel Vivas, as well as perform some analytical work on the piece, if at all possible. This piece was first published in Furrow's 2017 issue.

When examining visual art, I find that the title always carries heavy weight, in the sense that it may give the viewer a basic direction about how to interpret the piece from henceforth. Unfortunately, no such option is available for this piece. The nature of it being untitled perhaps serves the visual well, and maybe even pokes fun at how the viewer interprets such pieces of this style. The friendly dinosaur has unfortunately lost his hands– to what unforeseeable natural disaster, I’m not so sure. Meanwhile, I, the viewer, am at a loss for words– I don’t quite get it, upon first impression. But, I try my best to be nice about it. The blue, yellow, and green color scheme that is immediately present reminds me of childhood playgrounds, so I suppose I enjoy that. The grace of yellow leaves that coat the ground also puts me into a certain cerebral mood– it’s fall, a very nostalgic time for me. Perhaps the artist was simply futzing with his old dinosaur toy, its hands bitten off and all. He turned out portrait mode and snapped a shot of his childhood best friend at the old playground that they shared so many fond memories at– the good ol’ days when Rex had actual hands. Perhaps this is all the artist was going for, and nothing more than that. The artist didn’t care if my reaction was a shrug, followed by a furrowed brow, and topped off with two hands in the air. What the hell am I looking at?

Upon retrospection, this might be what the artist was actually going for. I may just be looking at a humorous reflection of myself with my initial reaction. I began to realize I mimicked the dinosaur’s position in the photo, and then the genius behind the photo struck me. Maybe I’m crazy, and the artist had no intentions of this whatsoever, but I cannot help but attest to the notion that the artist likely never cared for what I thought at all. It’s a simple reflection of similar times, and a good one at that. It’s a good representation of a nostalgic memory at a point in time where the critiques of others were essentially irrelevant. I can see a child with his first cheaper camera in the late 2000’s taking his favorite toy to his favorite playground and shooting something very similar to “Untitled,” and then scurrying back home to his parents, overly excited to show them his masterpiece. This is perhaps truly what the photo represents– a simpler time of memories long gone. Maybe the artist believes I’m thinking too hard, and simply wants me to immerse myself in my own childhood nostalgia– upon writing and finishing this review, I can say the writer has absolutely made me do that.


Final Score: 7.5/10. Charming and cute, and thought provoking as well– I still don’t get it entirely though.

Vernacular Whirlwind: March 21.

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