Opinion: Painting reality in a digitalized world

Melissa Schwachenwald

Melissa Schwachenwald

Melissa Schwachenwald is a senior fine arts major and columnist

for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].

Street art, live music, alluring storefronts and adrenaline thrive in New York City. The overstimulation of creativity is powerful and expressive of the 21st century. 

Throughout museums and galleries, there is a common theme of technology and the digital fantasy world versus a tangible reality. 

Last spring I attended The Volta Art show, which presented a variety of emerging artists from around the world.  

Traditional paintings on canvas, such as Natasha Kissell’s futuristic, apocalyptic style set in an overgrown, natural world sparked my imagination. The large canvases immediately caught my eye because of the vibrant colors and realistic portrayals of nature. 

Kissell used New York City’s modern-day architecture to contrast the natural setting and named her body of work “Reborn in Arcadia.” The paintings refer to history and to an era where the urban skyline is changing continuously. 

Most of the pieces included crumbling and decaying ruins alongside innovative, complex structures. The distinction between the old and new monuments represents a breaking with the past. 

Qualities that stand out in Kissell’s work are the smooth brushstrokes and juxtaposition of the intricate architecture with organic forms of graffiti, birds, waterfalls and vast forests. 

I valued the fantastical aspects Kissell exaggerated, such as the floating city in her painting “Island in the Sky.” The balance between the dreamlike visions and altered reality throughout the painting creates a magical world imagined in her mind. 

I recommend looking into this London-based artist at natashakissell.com.

The process of bringing the imagination to life by hand is a faculty deeply instilled in my own art. For a large part of my life, I’ve painted without the knowledge of creating art through a computer. Once I was taught to use devices such as Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop and Flash animation, I realized I could not receive the same gratification as using a paintbrush on canvas.  

The surreal environments Kissell paints could easily be digitized and replicated, although the aesthetics would not be as pleasing. Her paintings make me appreciate the fact that a hanging piece of art on a wall still opens a door to unique possibilities.

Technology strives to be flawless and I personally believe combining this thought with the creation of art is a hard fit. Art is a human expression and correcting the “defects” through a machine takes away part of the meaning. 

Digital art is a form of expression I respect. Technology in general has been an international dynamic that continues to greatly affect societies; however, I find it difficult to use as a creative outlet.