Rena Detrixhe: Figura

Shadowy figures on pale pink sheets blanket the walls of the Central Court. Many of the figures are life-sized or larger, their images divided across two, three, or four sheets. Some are fragmented, highlighting only the flowing dress and legs of a woman or the cropped torso oErrantLine_2013_03_02_213f a gentleman on the corner of a page. The figures appear to move about and interact. One figure looks and gestures toward another, while a third seems to be walking away, her back turned. They hang loosely, effortlessly in their respective places on the walls spanning two stories. They seem to dance and float about the space, as their soft yet dynamic expressions and gestures come in and out of focus. Men, women, and children from another time are frozen in a pink world yet are seemingly animate. Walking through the space, one might even become one of these floating figures. In this way, the viewer’s imagination animates the figures on the wall while they, in turn, animate the presence of the viewer.

The sheets housing these whimsical characters are at once paper and cloth, delicate and limp yet incredibly rich. The surface resembles the subtly creased and cracked surface of a Renaissance oil painting, with soft detail and vivid color. Attached to the wall only at the top, they hang, flow, and, at the bottom corners, even curl. Examined closely, the figures reveal exquisite detail in their clothing, jewelry, hands, and visages. One becomes seduced by beautiful tapestry-like cloth, delicate lace, tattered garments lovingly patched, gold buttons, and dirt under a fingernail.

Still, one figure in particular remains to be addressed. On one side of the room, the Museum’s grand piano sits, partially shrouded by a pleated curtain of the same pink hue that surrounds the figures. The curtain is suspended so only the feet of the piano and potential player remain visible. One is then left to contemplate how this object relates to the figures in the room, and to wonder how playing it might add to their magic.

Rena Detrixhe, Visual Art undergraduate major, University of Kansas

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