Solitude and confinement in the work of Edward Hopper
Impressionist realism more current than ever in a pandemic
BY ANDREA ROMANÍ
Finding a reflection of the emotions present in works from the past happens much more frequently than we can imagine. Without going any further, there is no artist more current today than the American Edward Hopper, whose works are a constant of loneliness and distance.
Originally from Nyack, New York, Hopper (1882-1967) was an author recognized for his realistic and mysterious depictions of the loneliness of contemporary United States. His work is a sample of urban and rural scenes composed of large forms of sharp lines, bathed in unusual lighting capable of capturing the solitary nature of the beings represented in them. Scenes from street life, ruled by a thick melancholy from which its characters seem unable to escape.
Hopper is considered one of the best realistic painters of the 20th century, but what is it that makes his work so special? Let us keep in mind that the artist belongs to the generation that lives the appearance of photography and, as such, to the disruption of modern art with the birth of avant-garde movements. From then on, any realistic representation of everyday life on a canvas was pigeonholed for those artists considered lacking in talent. But like any great artist throughout history, Hopper knew how to find what set him apart from others; he was able to find his own way through the upheaval of the avant-garde world.
Edward Hopper's work stood out for its selective realism, that is, for the representation of a reality resulting from his own humanity. It is known that the artist was never a lover of great media appearances. Furthermore, his responses to the press were always very brief, imprecise, reflecting his somewhat ascetic and elusive personality. Therefore, his work was popularly accepted because it was not a mere copy of reality, but a subjective interpretation of his inner life.
Hopper was what could be called an "observer of the human soul", so despite his own vision of reality, he was able to capture the feelings of loneliness in his contemporary society. Perhaps that is why Nighthawks is his most famous work. Painted after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (which marked the entry of the United States into World War II) the work is a clear synthesis of sadness and realism, a reflection of the collective discouragement and loneliness of a big city.
But despite the sadness, the aspect that stands out the most in a Hopper work is the contradiction. That moment of pause in which despair seems to connect with hope, yearning for a freedom that can be felt in every gesture and in every detail of his paintings. A very current feeling in the global reality of our planet.