Art is the funhouse mirror that gives us different perspectives of the world. Sometimes there is close verisimilitude to reality, other times gross distortions. But whatever is represented is almost always seen in a new way. Art challenges us to think about who we are, where we are and how we fit in the world. Whether evoking the pure emotions of a Rothko or a Pollack, or depicting the world in the cool ordered mechanistic beauty of an Estes or a Sheeler, art gives us pause and asks us to reflect.
The protagonist of CHAMELEON is both an artist and a collector. She seeks to surround herself with objects that are evocative and meaningful to her. Early experiences at the Uffizi Art Gallery Museum in Florence and the lasting impact of a pair of paintings by Botticelli both capture her psyche and symbolize aspects of her then life and her life to come. Her encounters with 15th century Italian Art do not leave her untouched and start her on the road of trying to understand who she is.
The CHAMELEON series incorporates references to the art of the protagonist’s life. It is not necessary to be an art historian or to be knowledgeable about the art mentioned in the series, but being able to visualize some of the referenced works will enhance the reader’s enjoyment and provide additional nuance to the character. In that vein, the authors have chosen to illustrate a few representative works on this website for your pleasure.
(early 20th Century)
The modernist art that emerged principally in Germany and its surrounds after the turn of the last century captivates the protagonist in CHAMELEON, and her own paintings have a significant Expressionistic influence. This was the art that Hitler declared degenerate in 1933 and had removed from German museums in 1937. The Expressionist Art that Hitler despised depicted humans with exaggerated features and proportions in order to explicitly convey the emotional intensity of the human condition. The Nazis associated these distortions with deformity and declared that what they represented was antithetical to the racial purity and perfection of the German people. Art by painters such as Egon Schiele, Emil Nolde, Oskar Kokoschka, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Max Beckmann, and Otto Dix was banned and those painters still living in Germany were prevented from painting, even in private.
Teraoka’s work engages the viewer in a sly dialogue of dichotomies. Initially playing off the intersection of the flat planes of the Japanese Edo period ukiyo-e woodblock prints with the impersonal juggernaut of modern society, Teraoka captures the attention of CHAMELEON'S protagonist. His work addresses themes of female sexuality and exploitation, abuse and intimacy, the tension between the erotic and the profane and the struggle between the sublime and the sinister; the very conflicts that shape the life and the soul of CHAMELEON'S protagonist.
CHAMELEON'S protagonist is also drawn to the sybaritic pleasures of the flesh and the art that depicts the heights and excesses of human sensuality. Not only is Schiele a key influence in her art, but the work of Schiele’s mentor, the symbolist Gustav Klimt, resonates powerfully with her own sense of self. His ‘Nuda Veritas’ of 1899 with its proudly naked red headed woman and the explicit Schiller quote, “If you cannot please everyone with your deed s and your art, please only a few” is almost a self portrait and the message, a motto which she takes to heart and to extreme.