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The Dancing Bacha - Formal Analysis

In: Other Topics

Submitted By mollycrowe
Words 840
Pages 4
Micha Negro
Formal Analysis
July 28, 2013
ARHA 2305

The Dancing Bacha (1926) by Alexander N. Volkov pencil on paper
Viewed at Arkansas Arts Center permanent collection (July 15, 2013)
Scene of an Uzbekistani Teahouse Alexander N. Volkov’s piece entitled The Dancing Bacha is a drawing of a gathering of males, featuring a dancing boy (the bacha) who often performed in the streets of pre-Soviet Central Asia. The piece was made in 1926 and most likely depicts a traditional teahouse in Uzbekistan. The piece’s present location is the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. Although its original location is not noted, it is thought to have originated in Uzbekistan, as previously mentioned. The work is said to be typical of the era, described as Russian Modernism. The artist was born and raised in Uzbekistan, but ethnically Russian and trained in Kiev during the height of European Modernism. The piece is pencil on paper and is approximately five inches by seven inches. It is framed in a large, black frame with a thick, white mat approximately four inches in width. It hangs alone on a narrow section of wall and is well-lit. It can only be viewed on one side due to the frame and position on the wall. The drawing is a monochromatic, gray scale depiction of a group of four males. One, the bacha, is dancing while another, to the right, is playing a stringed instrument called the ghidjak. The ghidjak is “a type of spike fiddle played with a bow.” The other two appear to simply be onlookers. The dancer and player seem to be more important characters, because the others are overlapped by them. There is not much room for anything other than these four figures, but the artist incorporates much detail in the background, including a few objects that appear to be hanging on the wall. The drawing is representational, but not wholly naturalistic, as the fabrics still look flat although there is a texturized appearance. Volkov drew this piece almost entirely of straight lines. Contour lines and geometric shapes are used only as borders and to outline separate elements of the drawing. Much texture is included with the various angles of hatching and cross-hatching, giving the work its ample detail. There is little negative shape, but even that is filled with detailed elements of the background, including a teapot that suggests the location of the scene. The background elements do not follow the same strict use of lines as in the foreground. This lack of repetitive lines allows the background to be visually lighter than the main figures, and therefore having less weight, drawing the eye to focus on the four males. There is no real or implied light source. As previously mentioned, Volkov’s patterned use of lines creates a textured appearance. The drawing does offer a sense of time, but merely a snapshot of the bacha and his onlookers. Furthermore, without actually moving, the position of the bacha’s limbs gives the appearance of motion. Volkov achieves unity in this drawing by grouping the individuals together in a scene that seems to natural to the viewer and illustrating them in a similar fashion. Variety is achieved with the similar, but not identical facial features. The work has asymmetrical balance with three figures appearing on the left side and the ghidjak player on the right. Emphasis is obviously given to the dancer and player and the other two figures are subordinate to them. The subordinate figures are overlapped by the bacha and appear to be sitting behind him while performing. Both scale and proportion appear to be normal throughout the drawing. The figures are relatively the same size and are in familiar proportion to their surroundings. The artist’s repetitive use of lines gives the drawing its rhythm.
“The intense movement of the bacha dances captivated the artist of this work, who saw rhythm in all facets of everyday life in Central Asia.” Although the scene found in The Dancing Bacha may seem a spectacle to an American, it was merely a part of everyday life in Uzbekistan. Volkov still found it striking enough to capture its beauty on paper. The simple medium of pencil and paper seems to further the impression of viewing a snapshot of the scene. This drawing is simple in technique yet infinitely detailed. The intricate detail of Volkov’s simple line formations grab the viewer’s attention to this work, while the delicate position and implied movement of this dancing boy draw the viewer’s eye to focus on him. Gradually, following the flow and rhythm of the drawing, focus is naturally directed to the gentleman playing the ghadjak on the other side of the frame. Only then does the entire scene come into focus and the setting is realized.

[ 1 ]. Wall text, The Dancing Bacha, Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR.
[ 2 ]. Ibid.
[ 3 ]. Ibid.
[ 4 ]. Wall text, The Dancing Bacha, Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR.
[ 5 ]. Wall text, The Dancing Bacha, Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock, AR.…...

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