I was walking along the road with two friends. The sun was setting – suddenly the sky turned blood red. I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on the fence, there were blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city. And my friends walked on, and I stood there trembling with anxiety, and I sensed an infinite scream passing through nature.

And that is how Edvard Munch describes what he felt while drawing the infamous painting, The Scream (1893). He saw the sky turn blood red, and he felt anxious. If you can see the artwork, the first thing that comes to your mind is ‘anxious’. The art flaunts out, speaks out anxiety; everything about that piece of art communicates some fear.

Edvard Munch describes this about Oslo, in Norway. There was a lunatic asylum near that location which admitted his sister for her disorder. Many interpretations tell that it was this asylum that he referred when he said: “scream passing through nature”. He describes how he felt anxious when he was looking at the blood-red sky. Many thought the blood-red sky was just a metaphor.

Historians explain that a nearby volcanic eruption causes a dramatic red sky in Oslo for a few days. The red sky he saw might be in one of those days. And it is only natural to feel anxious after looking at something unnatural. But if you look closely at the figure that is in the painting. It is screaming, now that figure is metaphorical. It is in-human and looks something close to what we call a ghost.

This figure might represent nature in a personal form. The personification of his feelings when he passed that area made this painting necessary. It is a crucial artwork in history because it is prominent for the movement: ‘impressionism’. People consider Edvard Munch as an expressionist artist, but this specific work is impressionistic. 

Impressionism was an art movement in the 19th century. The impressionist artists chose to draw or make a piece of art not by merely depicting something as it is. They would instead create an impression that had been in their minds while looking at the specific inspiration. You can see how it fits the profile of The Scream!

Many historians also claim that it was not just a lunatic asylum that felt like a scream of nature, but there was also a slaughterhouse nearby.

Later in life, Edvard Munch stopped consuming meat and felt it was cannibalism. He, however, continued to eat fish, but he was outspoken about turning vegetarian. ‘Vegetarian cult’ he called it. Historians related his thoughts on vegetarianism from his early ‘Scream’ days and said the ‘scream of nature’ might also refer to the screams of animals from the slaughterhouse. 

It does make sense to think of it as the screams of animals because, in his later life, Munch describes eating animals is cannibalism and they are our cousins, brothers, sisters and aunts. He is against the idea of eating closer relatives such as animals, and he supports eating our distant relatives who share different anatomy to us, the plants!

Both interpretations have something in common, the scream—screams of lunatic patients and animals from butchery. Both are innocent; they have committed no crime to suffer such punishment. It is humans that mistreat people with disorders and animals for food. The setting seemed odd, slaughterhouse one side and the lunatic asylum on the other, and the blood-red sky. It was a scream of nature; man, animal, sky, plant and everything around screamed at that moment in his mind.

If he drew this as ordinary landscape painting depicting it as it is with regular people on the bridge, asylum and slaughterhouse on either side, would it have created such an impact? Would you feel anxious when you look at it? Would you understand the scream of nature? You would need some description to figure out the motive behind the painting if it was an ordinary landscape.

It is because of the impressionistic choice he made to personify the scream, to draw the sky wavy in a surreal way, and that makes us feel anxious to look at it. It is as if it was his anxiety that he put into the work, and it transmits to everyone who looks at it. Such is the beauty of Impressionist and Expressionist arts. It is not merely capturing the movement as it is, but it is capturing the feelings that come with the moment and scenery that makes a painting and artistic painting!

Vincent Van Gogh grew curious towards butterflies and moths between 1889 and 1890. He liked the metaphorical representation of human transformation through the Metamorphosis of insects, and especially Moths and Butterflies. When he was drawing such transforming creatures, he found this beautiful Moth. He described this moth as ‘Death’s Head Moth’ to his brother in his letter. Also in this letter, Van Gogh said he wouldn’t like to draw it because to draw it, he has to kill such a beautiful creature. It did take him a lot of thinking, but in the end he drew this Great Peacock Moth and added to the collection of his Butterfly Series. The thing that made Van Gogh curious was the shape this Moth carried on its back. It looks like a human skull. And the colors of it; dark greens and grays; it looked like death to Van Gogh.

The reason behind his interest in butterflies, as we stated earlier was his metaphorical interpretation towards human transformation. Van Gogh believed that humans have the capacity to transform; not physically, but mentally. He wanted to symbolize this characteristic of transformation by pressing on to the concept of Butterfly and Moth metamorphosis. He used his butterfly series to symbolize hope and transformation in humans. He wondered about the possibilities present in the universe when he started drawing butterflies. He used to think about the prostitutes in brothels that he used to meet when he thinks of metamorphosis. He talked about hope referring to prostitutes and butterflies. “Like the caterpillar transforms into a beautiful butterfly, imagining the various possibilities in the world, what may these prostitutes become in the future?” he wrote in a letter to his friend.

The Metamorphosis

Crawling on the green leaves,
I saw the kids joyously jumping and playing with the butterflies.
Looking at all the colorful cousins of mine, 
I decided to be the one with most of the colors on me.

Every time I chew on the leaf,
My only thought is to progress.
To progress enough,
For me to fly high, with the wings of my own.

Crawling inch by inch and eating all the leaf,
I shed my skin in the hope of gaining new.
Each time I shed my skin,
I think the time has come.

But each time a new skin comes,
The more disappointed I become.
The pressure on me is un-imaginable.
The stress to be the best.

Have no thoughts of becoming something else,
Have no plans of what to do next either.
But my goal was just to thrive.
To flap my wings and make people smile.

Saw my friends shedding their final skin.
Saw them build a nest,
Saw them break it out,
And saw them fly away.

Each day passes,
I become more sad.
Is this my final form?
Can I not transform?

But thinking about it made me hate,
Hate the thought of not transforming.
Swallowing the grudge that I carry,
I started despising the colorful winged creatures.

Began to wonder my unique nature,
Began to observe my difference.
By now there is no confusion,
It is evident that I am different from those who crawled with me.

Somewhere inside,
Even when I don’t want to accept,
I know that I am not one of them,
That I can never be a butterfly.

Days have passed,
And the pressure increased too.
Shed my final skin,
Built my own shell.

Curious were the kids,
To see what color that I would turn.
But I don’t wonder anymore,
That I already know that I’m different.

Days passed and changes began.
I don’t like myself anymore.
The darkness sucked me in,
Into a big void.
And soon it became me, the void.

I tore the shell and came out.
Shocked were the kids but I don’t care.
I heard a cry instead of a laugh.
My reflections didn’t look colorful.

But I knew it long back,
That I will turn up gray.
I don't want to cry,
Because not my mistake.

Being a butterfly,
Would be a mistake.
For I was never one with those color winged things,
I have always been the Great Gray Moth!

Mistake was mine,
To dream of being them.
But no matter what you think I’m,
This is my Metamorphosis.

This is my tribute to the thought of Metamorphosis of Van Gogh. For him it was hope, and for me it is change. Change that you have when you finally knew yourself; the true yourself!

“Yes, I suffered !

I faked my smile for an unknown reason!

I am not so happy for what I am!

Hated myself for how I look!

And Yes, I’m not ok with my curves and tone!”

This is how many girls think about themselves irrespective of how they are reflected. And these thoughts have been rolling up in most of the girl minds from ages. One such idea is reflected in one of the best paintings called “GIRL BEFORE A MIRROR” by Picasso.

This painting talks about reflections of self; how she sees herself versus how others see her; or the duality of our natures. There are so many levels you can use to prompt creativity and critical thinking about Picasso’s paintings. The woman in the art is Marie-Therese Walter, Picasso’s youthful mistress and favoured model in the 1930s.

Picasso reflected her both in profile and frontally as she peers into a mirror that reflects as a woman she is not. We can see a beautiful pregnant woman with charm and round breasts who is looking at her reflection in the mirror, which appears as her future reflection. In her reflection in the mirror, she sees that her body is aged and she is not very happy about it. The reflection shows a different woman than the appearance, who is dark and morbid; vanity and despair; somber and sad; grief and pain; darkness and crying for hope- a hope where she could be brought out of all her miseries. Some descriptions also say that the woman before the mirror is what everyone sees, and her reflection shows how she actually felt inside, the pain she is hiding from everyone.

“Girl Before a Mirror” by Picasso is one of the most thoughtful painting, and a very few get the whole meaning right away. To know about the art, we have to look deeper and deeper inside the artwork to get the real sense. At times when I look at Picasso’s paintings, I start imagining things that aren’t there, and that’s precisely what Picasso does in his paintings.

MY VIEW AND GIVE AWAY:

Well, this is how I illustrated my view on this art. The girl looks so beautiful, yet she is making it complicated by her thoughts while looking at her reflection. I find this particular painting is more relevant in today’s world. Because many people, especially women, see themselves as being uglier, for they find themselves unable to attain the falsely imposed standards. And here is my take for you:

Why should one be worried about curves; when they have achieved to the best in a curvy life,

Why should one be worried about wrinkles; when they have a beautiful smile on the face,

Why should one be worried about loosing skin tone; when they have the brightness got from happiness,

Why should one be worried about growing old; when they have got a handful of memories to cherish,

Why should one be worried about how others judge them by their looks; when they got the best soul,

Why should one be worried about stretch marks after pregnancy; when they have the best moments to cherish with the kids,

Why my girl, why?

We don’t have to. After all, we have got one life, and we need to live it the fullest. If not what’s the point of living for many years! Admire yourself with what you have, be happy and thankful for being a unique and beautiful creation.
You are not born to live in the standards of others but to live the life where you set your standards, which defines your worth.

It just takes few minutes to embrace yourself and love yourself. But trust me when you LOVE your soul and don’t give a damn on shitty things, you will have the best moments to cherish for a longer time.

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