Is the Reception of Emotional Expression in Visual Art Global?

By Inas Alkholy.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Pictures don’t live in isolation from a context of comprehension and response. According to Gretchen Barbatsis, the notion that meaning is something added to a piece of art has important connotation in the way we conceptualize art. The dynamic understanding of visual interpretation is a mutual process, in which the artwork and the viewer add something to one another. Art conveys meanings, reflects moods, motivates both feelings and actions, and engages the viewer into a vivid dialogue with the artwork. Artists through the ages have been expressing deep feelings and sufferings. The expressiveness of figurative art moves the viewer, not only to admire the artist, but to feel the expressed emotions themselves.
Can we call a picture-viewer engagement global? Local cultures are expanding and changing rapidly and affected by globalization; however there are different understandings of this term in different localities. Many eastern and western examples in the history of art show similar visual emotional expressions. Although the reception of emotional expression in visual art depends on local cultures and individual factors, a pre-read art-related text results in a similar eastern and western reception of the same visual expression. Whether it is an interpretation, criticism or art history, a pre-read text is valuable before seeing the artwork. It configures the viewer’s rational and psychological involvements with artwork itself and affects the way he/she receives it. Regardless of the viewer’s cultural, political, religious backgrounds he/she is involved in a meaning-making process. Every viewer tries to understand ideas and meanings in what is presented in artwork.
The aim of this article is to investigate the picture-viewer interaction, the emotional involvement in visual art and the meaning-making process. Two eastern and western artworks are selected for their visual emotional expression: the Assyrian wall-relief Dying Lioness and the Hellenistic sculpture Laocoön. Both sculptures share painful death, heroic and pathetic presentations. They bring eastern and western expression closer to the viewer.

Keywords: Picture-viewer Interaction, Emotional Involvement, Visual Art, Meaning-making Process, Dying Lioness, Laocoon

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp.179-188. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.951MB).

Prof. Inas Alkholy

Associate Professor, Faculty of Fine Arts, Yarmouk University, Irbid, Irbid, Jordan

An Egyptian-Jordanian scholar who obtained Ph.D, Comparative Arts, Ohio University, 1995; M.A. in Graphic Design, Helwan University, Cairo 1984; Among my publication are: “The Notion of Time in Vermeer’s Milkmaid and Lacemaker,” “The Atrocity of War,” “A Re-Reading of Narrative Art in the Context of the Middle East,” “The Presence of the Book of Knowledge in Raphael’s Fresco”; “The Dialectic Between Styles”; “The Development of Formal Relation Between Sculpture and Architecture”; “The Picturesque Landscape in Baroque Painting and Music”; “The Influence of Euclid’s Music Theory on Raphael’s Architectural Background.” I participated in international conferences: ICIE 2008 Paris, SIETAR 2008 Granada, SANART 2007 Ankara, Designtrain 2007 Amsterdam, IMCL 2007 Amman, GUIDE 2006 Rome, Crossing Borders 2006 Palermo, ANZAMEMZ 2005 New Zealand, PRESENCE 2003 Aalborg, and Art Education 1999 Cairo.


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