Munmun Masud

November 19th, 2010

The Impression of Confinement

Posted by munmunmasud in Uncategorized

The mood that best describes Edward Hopper’s famous painting, Nighthawks, is the impression of confinement. The waiter is shut in behind the square counter. The customers are confined within the four edges of the café and café Phillies itself, is confined by four edges of the corners of the street. This painting, which can easily be passed as a photograph captures both light and shadow. This café seems to be the only object that illuminates the environment—light is the only aspect of the painting that is not confined. Light breaks through the transparent café, escaping into the streets.

In this painting, the uniquely defined dwellers of the dark, the “nighthawks,” are of the white race. Therefore, the notion of freedom is completely relevant. Even if these individuals are people with freedom, are they free from the tightly confined corners of the café? Where is the café’s entrance/exit door? From my perspective, the people seem to be trapped, but the “white” light is definitely not, as it escapes the translucent glass walls.

This painting explicitly displays indoor luminosity, but also does not fail to light the outdoors of the street corner. This creates an illusion of daytime for only that specific street corner of which Phillies resides. Phillies is not the only hotspot in this painting, as there is another unknown setting placed directly across. It looks just as clean, furnished, and is also transparent. Because that store is unnamed, it is insignificant—therefore, unlighted.

Even though there are three men in this painting, they fail to overshadow the single woman. The men are dressed in dark or pale colors, and all are wearing a form of head gear. The only revealing parts of their body, other than their hands, are the men’s faces and that too, is shielded from light. These caps limit all types of beam to directly hit their face. The men have figured out a way to confine light in areas where they do not belong. The blackness of the men’s suit does not emit or reflect light, it rather absorbs it. These boring listless colors are outshined by the woman sporting the bright red dress, red hair and red lips. The vibrant red signifies color, and represents the flamboyance of light. Clearly, the woman represents a figure that does not want to settle in the shadow, in contrast to the men.

To express restriction, one can easily do what is captured in this painting. Because there are several people in a confined space, the notion of loneliness is invisible. In other words, along with four people, there exists light and an atmosphere that is uniformly shared. Where exists light, the issue of confinement is still noticeable. The city streets of Manhattan are lighted 24 hours of the day and accessible to people at all hours, much like café Phillies. Therefore, the 24 hour illuminated city streets too, are confined. Beyond the sidewalks are cross roads intended for cars, there are areas that say “no trespassing,” private locations, highways and of course the Hudson River. The above literal experiences contribute to confinement as the places mentioned are not accessible to most—it is all confined, therefore, people will always be limited whether in the dark or the brightest of places.

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2 Responses to ' The Impression of Confinement '

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  1.    Priest said,

    on April 23rd, 2013 at 4:31 am

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  2.    raf modelleri said,

    on June 20th, 2013 at 8:42 pm

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