Hands and gestures
Maya Fischer 2006
If hands can tell something more about a person, then artists and not only they will have to fulfil this basic prerequisite, namely to have good hands in order to draw them. Naturally there comes to mind immediately Albrecht Dürer. Still, the real question is what other artistic expressions were developed either before or else since the German Renaissance? Both human hands and what they can express have to be perceived as possible something else than just praying hands.
Already prior to Dürer, Giotto started a new perception of things. He initiated in part the Renaissance by letting all hands speak the same language. It is called "the language of gestures". Unified by pain, Giotto did not exclude the soldiers who looked on as the women were weeping due to the death of Jesus. It was a religious painting but done already within a new time dimension of past, present and future. Joined by gestures of pain, his paintings showed a new unity of perception, one which allowed for some common human understanding.
Not always are artists so lucky that they can start out with hands. Often they are avoided as if they happen to be just at the time of doing the painting behind the back of the person about to be portrayed. It is not easy to depict the story of the art but then Gombrich has left a legacy just as Michel Foucault would start his amazing exploration of 'order of things' by interpreting Velasquez's lady at the court in which the painter is the centre of attention and no longer the royal couple about to enter the room. That can be seen as happening at the back and by way of a mirror.
Michel Foucault uses that as an example to illustrate how structures of representation alter and out of which emerges a new order to things. In his philosophical analysis he went even further since categories such as who is to be considered a 'healthy' person was immediately matched with the selection principle as to who would be recruited for the army. That has many implications, in aesthetics it would suffice here to say even Rubens defines beauty as perceived by society and then the discussion reenters as to who has at a certain time the power to define what is art.
In view of the hands by Maya Fischer, there is another elongation. Like a dream develops something outside of reality and yet in relation to life, the literary quote cannot be exact. However, the drawing is. Vincent Van Gogh always said to any future artist, 'draw, draw, as long as you can by avoiding use of colours, for then, once you grab the paint brush, then dishonesty can enter any time for you never know what is being covered up with a flashy red or a bright yellow.' In that sense the elongation of the fingers draw out the invisible part of the human presence. It is most telling and compelling. No one can look away or for that matter into another direction.