Sigmar Polke/ Alice in Wonderland/ 1972/ Paint, acrylic, spray and metallic on patterned fabric/ 286 x 310 cm
Alice in Wonderland" is the name of a work by the German artist Sigmar Polke. This multi-layered work is formed from a symmetrical combination of patterned fabrics, instead of canvas, on which figurative designs are engraved. In the middle of the painting, white ovals on the surface of black and blue fabric have been worked without order, just to create a patterned background like normal fabrics. The sides of this dotted texture are flanked by two equally wide fabric surfaces, both containing a diagonal grid of color images of a soccer field with a ball, goal, and players seen from above. Patterned fabrics are a background for narrative illustrations that are worked in transparent white color.
In the center of the painting hangs a large mushroom, on which the character of the vampire worm in the fairy tale of Alice in Wonderland is sitting and smoking hookah. Below, the young girl, Alice, is eating a mushroom which, according to the legend, will make her bigger or smaller depending on whether she bites the right or wrong side of the mushroom. The red color on one side of the mushroom indicates its poisonous quality, and the yellow flowers around the mushroom intensify this sense of toxicity.
On the right side of the panel and on the soccer field patterns, a clear white image of a basketball player trying to make a long throw is painted. In the conflict of white images with their colorful background, it is not clear which one is a print and which one is a painting, and which layer dominates the other layer. The whole work speaks of an illusory atmosphere, the real and imaginary aspects of which are inseparable.
Two obvious areas of this imaginary space, as seen in this painting, are heroic sports and imaginary cinema. All narrative components have psychedelic power and hallucinogenic potential; The football and basketball players look full of excitement and energy, Alice is eating a powerful mushroom, and the vampire worm has gone into a drug trance by smoking a hookah, and its smoke surrounds him like an aura. The transparent white characters look lifeless and the colored players are like cartoon characters, unreal. It is the work of the contemporary enchanted world and its enchanted atmosphere expressed in the language of pop art. Just as this surrounding world is formed from different layers of reality and fantasy, the space of the polke painting is also composed of several layers of paintings, designs and prints that are adjacent to each other or coincide with each other.
The fact is that I do not see much difference between photography and painting, and basically such a distinction has no value and meaning for me. The only thing that interests me is the unpredictability of art.
Prepared and arranged by: Narges Saheb Ekhtiari