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The Dark Art Movement and Beyond

“Dark Art” is an art movement that is often described as disturbing or frightening by its nature. But I think this definition is very generic.

The artist, who reveals some creepy and even scary scenes without hesitation, first arouses a feeling of surprise and then a curiosity in us. So, what is it that awakens this curiosity in us?

Salvador Dali, The Face of War, 1940

Is it our excitement to try to connect with reality? Is it our desire for adrenaline? Or is it an appeal to our primitive impulses? I think all are correct. But, personally, I would say most often that it appeals to our primitive impulses. The subjects in these works contain thoughts that many people would not think of in daily life and touch a dark side within us. And we are startled with a sense of wonder mixed with excitement.

In general, “black” dominates the Dark Art. The work becomes more striking by using red and its tones. In the dark art genre, the artist conveys her / his thoughts in a slightly spooky and mysterious way, and sometimes combines it with ‘Surrealism’.

Henry Fuseli

The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli

Dark paintings have “death” themes – the inevitable end. We can see the skulls, blades, snakes and even beheaded people. In this kind of dark artworks we can see the red and black palette mostly.

Artists have discussed religious themes as well as classical mythology. And some of dark artworks have a scenes from the Old Testament. Like a Caravaggio – Judith Beheading Holofernes, we can feel the anger, horror  and violence.

John Everett Millais

Ophelia by Sir John Everett Millais

Even some dark artworks are scary and terrifying, we still wants to look directly their eye, and see what is it the meaning of it and we wants to know the story in the background.

This art movement, which shows that darkness will also have a beautiful and aesthetic side, I think it teaches us that “beauty can be found in negative places”.

And I personally love “Dark Art” because it expresses that there is a dark side of the world that most of us don’t even want to know. And even if you don’t want to know or want to close your eyes, it does not change the fact that there is something else in the dark. Because there is always something behind what is visible. Always.