Jackson Pollock, the American painter, painted The Deep in 1953, which was a later phase of his career. Pollock died after three years of the date of this painting. The artist has painted this work with his signature drip technique. Belonging to the Abstract expressionist style, The Deep abstractly pictures a dark void in black surrounded by dense white fog-like patches.
What is depicted in The Deep?
Splashes of colour together create a space in The Deep. Possibly, the artist has depicted a deep void in the painting. The dark ground suggests a recession in the centre, while the flowy splashes of paint indicate a movement and fierce essence. For the artwork, Pollock used the medium of oil and enamel on the canvas.
The Deep, shows a later stage of the artist’s abstract expressionist painting. The title of the painting also marks a change from earlier works by Pollock. Moving from titles that had numbers, in this case, Pollock referred, with the title, The Deep, to visual and metaphysical essence. Through a darker tone, the central black ground indicates depth. The upper surface of the painting is made with wide drips of white, which mimics clouds or perhaps fog. Small drips of yellow are rhythmically adjusted in different places on the canvas. The yellow marks subtly break through the black-and-white colour scheme and provide a break from monotony. Drifting away with energetic spontaneous drips, this stage of controlled dripped image-suggestion makes us think of Pollock’s aesthetic journey. Beyond formalistic analysis, many speculations have been made about the artwork’s possible metaphorical meaning. However, the exact reference remains a mystery.
Pollock’s art practices had been based on fierce movements and spontaneous actions. Scholars mention that his life phases impacted his aesthetic choices. Painted in 1953 this painting belongs to a time when the artist was seemingly in a stage of wonder. Looking for a new approach in his practice, he might have produced this piece in that longing. The painting represents an inward movement within the painting.
The painting’s ambiguity and placing of different colour planes open a multitude of meanings. Certainly, it becomes a pertinent example of abstract expressionist painting. With no exact references to imply, our mind could sail through the emotive charge of the painting. Abstract expressionism emphasizes emotions and expressions over the manipulative effect of representation. Pollock played a pioneering role in abstract expressionist painting. He invented the drip technique to connect more directly to the surface of an artwork. He believed the mediator of representation and even physical mediators like brush, can manipulate the possibility of free expression.
Pollock began his career with expressionist figurative paintings. He gradually developed a visual language that was freer in the application of colour and propositions of forms. Pollock is recognized in the art world for his paintings with a vigorous splash of colour and dynamic imagery. In Pollock’s works, the process becomes equally important. His canvas is an arena to be acted upon. The artist’s paintings are like events taking place on the canvas.
Two paintings that relate to The Deep are Easter and Totem (1953) and Number 26 (1949). Easter and the Totem that was painted in the same year as The Deep shows the building of space with colour planes. However, Number 26 was painted in Pollock’s popular style called action painting.