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Overthinking

Museum Link: https://app.museumofcryptoart.com/collection/permanent-collection?collection=0xb932a70a57673d89f4acffbe830e8ed7f75fb9e0&token=10659&page=2

Source Link: https://superrare.com/artwork-v2/overthinking-10659

Date Minted: June 1, 2020

Artist Description: The mind is a complex system which controls our thoughts and emotions. External pressures that modern society places on us as individuals can quickly become internalised to morph into mental millstones. This artwork captures the essence of our inability to rid ourselves of these issues. The background of the artwork first provides us with this view of this world. The coarse red texture is reminiscent of the external pressures that exist within society; dark, negative clouds are never too far from us. The textural qualities of the paint on the digital canvas help to reinforce the suggestion of the duality of the artwork; existing both physically and mentally. We see a subject silhouetted in this universe, struggling to avoid these mental stresses. The nondescript form tells us that this could be anyone. We can see that avoidance of these external factors is impossible as the built-up red coloured pressure spills inwards through the subject’s ears. Soundwaves soon become thoughts which take on gloomy green and grey tones. The face is obscured by these thoughts as if consuming and overwhelming the subject. An artist alone, in the solitude of their mind, alienated from anything other than thoughts of creation; a mind saturated like their paint soaked sponge. Thought upon thought; nothing else; overthinking, until a zenith is finally reached to repeat through an infinite cycle.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

“The mind is a complex system which controls our thoughts and emotions. External pressures that modern society places on us as individuals can quickly become internalised to morph into mental millstones. This artwork captures the essence of our inability to rid ourselves of these issues. The background of the artwork first provides us with this view of this world. The coarse red texture is reminiscent of the external pressures that exist within society; dark, negative clouds are never too far from us. The textural qualities of the paint on the digital canvas help to reinforce the suggestion of the duality of the artwork; existing both physically and mentally. We see a subject silhouetted in this universe, struggling to avoid these mental stresses. The nondescript form tells us that this could be anyone. We can see that avoidance of these external factors is impossible as the built-up red coloured pressure spills inwards through the subject’s ears. Soundwaves soon become thoughts which take on gloomy green and grey tones. The face is obscured by these thoughts as if consuming and overwhelming the subject. An artist alone, in the solitude of their mind, alienated from anything other than thoughts of creation; a mind saturated like their paint soaked sponge. Thought upon thought; nothing else; overthinking, until a zenith is finally reached to repeat through an infinite cycle.”

That’s how Overthinking is described by artist Skygolpe, who used the Artist Description on SuperRare to give us a thorough run-down of the various attributes, affectations, and artistic aspects on display in his piece. Mental health is obviously a key contributor to the artist’s vision. As is the interplay between physical texture and digitalization, once the former has undergone the latter’s processing. Color, too, is mentioned quite often in the description, so there’s clearly been excessive intention ascribed to just the juxtaposition between shades, hues, tones. And it’s just so encouraging to see any piece of art that’s clearly achieved success as the result of much effort, thought, and foresight given to composition. 

Overthinking is an extension of Skygolpe’s entire oeuvre, which is devoted exclusively to the exploration of facial structure and color. 44 artworks in total make up the artist’s creation-page on SuperRare, and all are versions of a similar theme: The outline of a human head is stripped of its identifying features —no faces, no hair— before being replaced with some kind of overarching art style (monochrome, animated, cubist) and filled in with color, shape, and detail based on that image’s theme.

Which means that, upon first glance, it may appear that many of these pieces, Overthinking included, are facsimiles, or near facsimiles, especially since many use this same brush-stroke heavy style, with clearly-defined impastos (physical brushstroke remnants either transferred to a digital sphere or replicated to appear so) and well-defined lines of identifiable paint, colors mixed and dried in a way that is more reminiscent of actual paint-on-canvas portraiture than the digitized final work it ultimately is.

But that’s missing the point. It’s missing the fact that Skygolpe is a subtle artist, not interested in flashy and overt projects, not interested in doing obtuse explorations of countless individual themes throughout their career so far. This is an artist with a singular focus, who is obviously interested in the very potent emotional associations that colors have on an observer, or that colors have when mixed together or juxtaposed, or that VFX have when introduced to compositions that, not long ago, would have been stagnant and still, not unbeautiful, but now, by comparison, incomplete.

Overthinking, as Skygolpe mentioned, takes place in a context of bright red, already agitating, and a context that includes the brushstroke remnants of physical painting, which works to unnerve us, ungrounding us by being in two places at once: the physical and digital realms. Movement also works to unnerve us: paint slides slowly down the length of the image —the paint of the face, that is— dripping in slow-moving globules, dragging color with it, blotting out what areas it comes to cover, this expanding amoeba of white and blue. It’s like some kind of tumor, plopped upon the face and spreading. It takes our attention, this slight movement, from the red background and the black bust around the face —skull and neck and top of shoulders— and the bifurcated ear. And every bit of movement, every spreading bit of color, every choice seems to have been the result of conscious thought by the artist.

An amount of intention that is staggering, especially when assuming that, past just Overthinking, this deluge of meaning is present in Skygolpe’s entire body of work. “We can see that avoidance of these external factors is impossible as the built-up red coloured pressure spills inwards through the subject’s ears.” What the artist is describing there is a slight crust of red color over the top half of the subject’s ear, nothing more, but even that slight bit of color has been clearly introduced to add a certain amount of tension, to advance the narrative of pressure →breakdown→self-destruction that the entire piece seeks to propel. There will always be a place in the artistic pantheon for this kind of obsessive thought. Art loves to be over-deliberated and fussed upon. It loves to be exact and it loves to be expansive. Skygolpe is, if nothing else, an insanely talented technical artist. A specific mind. And Overthinking, as much as any piece I’ve seen in Crypto Art, is technically brilliant, classically brilliant, the evolution of traditional styles into a digital sphere, taking advantage of the new medium without being dominated by it. That’s rare. It, too, demonstrates Skygolpe’s ultra-specific vision.