Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Day 1 - The Halloween Paintings of Rado Javor

     A major part of what makes Halloween...Halloween!...is the "atmosphere", a gestalt of sometimes ephemeral, vague notions that can be hard to peg down precisely. As with Christmas, there are intrinsic qualities to it's spot on the calendar that seem essential, you need snow for a "proper" Christmas and you need the smell of dead leaves and just the right chill in the air for a proper Halloween. There's a certain muted color palette, a specific progress of deciduous death, dark shadows, wind whistling, bright full moons. More invisibly, like Christmas's almost tangible feeling of good cheer and merriment, Halloween demands some foreboding.

     And the frustrating thing is the only place this atmosphere comes together and really thrives is in our memories-it doesn't photograph well, it isn't fully appreciated second hand through retelling. Something is lost when trying to externalize and relate what's in our brains.

    Rado's paintings manage to capture the holiday atmosphere remarkably well. They aren't simply images of scary places with creepy monsters. No, they instantly, unmistakably convey Halloween. They do a wonderful job of drawing on and being enhanced by our collective memories of Halloween's past. Where flatly lit photographs of costumed kids in the kitchen fail to evoke the breadth of giddy fright and excitement, paintings like these are more successful as records of the emotional memories 

      The actual setting, a colonial era America, is largely irrelevant, though it is very evocative in its own right. It doesn't matter that none of us have lived and trick-or-treated in the 1700s...and we can look past the supernatural elements...we've experienced (or constructed the experience in our minds) foggy nights and autumn sunsets like these, we've seen (or believed we've seen) glowing flames and gnarled trees and ominous clouds like these, and so the response is still powerful. It's the fantastical lighting and colors that creates an image just slightly impossible and dreamlike, something more in line with how our memories feel. How we'd like our experiences to have been, even if it's not entirely accurate.

     I encourage everyone to check out Rado's galleries at DeviantArt and keep checking back for new paintings throughout the month, he has typically posted one or two each October. It's become one of my favorite Halloween traditions in recent years.

 Rado Javor at DeviantArt.com

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