Art Criticism of Barricade by Jose Clemente Orozco
Art Criticism of Barricade by Jose Clemente Orozco The painting Barricade by Jose Clemente Orozco is made using oil on canvas. It is 140 by 114. 3 cm and it portrays five men that are closely placed together. To the left of the portrait there is a shirtless hunched man giving his back to the viewer and has his right arm extended to the right. He is holding a red cloth in his right hand. He has two bullet straps going over his shoulders and strapped across his back. To his right there is another shirtless male figure facing the viewer with his arm extended forward and his feet closely placed together.
There is a rope loosely placed around his feet. This man also has his arm slightly extended forward. He is standing in a slanted position and is leaning his back on something. To the right of this man is a fully clothed crouched man holding a knife in his hand. There are two other shirtless men on the ground behind this crouched male figure. The two bigger men on the left are balanced by the three smaller men on the right. Orozco uses a brighter value of blue on the pants of the two men on the left to show their dominance over the rest of the men. The posture of the slanted man creates implied diagonal lines.
Orozco also uses a vibrant red colored cloth shift the reader’s attention from the two dominant male figures to focus on other aspects of the artwork and the other minor figures. The whole painting may evoke a gloomy and depressing mood in the viewer because the men appear to be struggling. The red cloth seems to symbolize bloodshed because of the seemingly violent scene that is taking place in the rest of the painting. The dominant figure on the right appears to be fighting for his life because of the way he is clenching his teeth. He could be extending his arm to reach for help from someone not included in the painting.
The knife in the crouched man’s hand symbolizes war, and his loose grip on the knife may represent his defeat. The smoke that appears to be polluting the sky could foreshadow that there is something worse to come and that the conflict going on may not be resolved. Also, the fact that four of the five men are shirtless could imply that they come from a lower social class. The artist succeeded in portraying a violent scene in this artwork because of the aggressive actions of the men. He limited the number of colors used in the painting, but was still able to create strong emotions in the viewer using different values of those colors.
The realistic portrayal of the muscles allows the viewer to perceive the reality of the environment. However, the artist confuses the viewer because he leaves the viewer to interpret many things on their own. His whole painting focuses on the five men, so the viewers are left to interpret the setting, the reason for their conflict, and the time when the conflict occurred based on the men’s actions and the objects around them. Overall, the painter includes minor symbols such as the cloth, gun, and knife to successfully convey the overall violent atmosphere of the painting.