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Exaggeration key to caricature

17 Jun, 2015 - 00:06 0 Views
Exaggeration key to caricature

The Herald

Caricatures of Argentina's Lionel Messi (left) and Germany's Thomas Mueller (right) adorn the windows of a textile printing store in Frankfurt, Germany, on July 10 last year. Germany and Argentina competed in the World Cup final on July 13, 2014. — (EPA/ARNE DEDERT)

Caricatures of Argentina’s Lionel Messi (left) and Germany’s Thomas Mueller (right) adorn the windows of a textile printing store in Frankfurt, Germany, on July 10 last year. Germany and Argentina competed in the World Cup final on July 13, 2014. — (EPA/ARNE DEDERT)

Knowledge Mushohwe Correspondent

“As a weapon, caricature is much stronger than a poem or a painting. In order to reach masses, it should be realised that caricature is the short cut in order to say something”.

Caricature in editorial cartooning is a line art which has judgmental and critical content and is intended to address a specific subject with exaggerated drawings.

It is viewed as an exaggeration or distortion of one or more of a person’s prominent features.

Though caricatures are often unflattering renderings of personalities, they reveal vital information about the subject.

Exaggera­tion is a key component of caricature. Caricature is however not only about drawing funny looking or grotesque faces.

It is a type of visual communication that is packaged by the artist into a clear message that can be understood by the reader much better than it would be in the literal arts.

As painter Abidin Dino stated, “as a weapon, caricature is much stronger than a poem or a painting. In order to reach masses, it should be realised that caricature is the short cut in order to say something”.

There are a number of types of caricature, including assimilation, contrast, inter-textuality and reversing.

Assimilation is a technique that integrates a known object or symbol into a visual in order to communicate a message.

A good example is a cartoon that appeared in the popular tabloid H-Metro after a story about how an American fast food franchise is short changing its clients by overpricing its products.

The cartoon assimilated the company’s ‘Colonel Saunders’ logo and showed a full figure of the well known character holding a gun and literally robbing its clients.

Country’s flags are routinely assimilated by cartoonists to communicate a message that they feel a country may represent, based on information made available to the readers.

During the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa, the country’s flag, in particular the red top half was assimilated to symbolize the innocent lives of foreigners that were lost.

Palestinian cartoonists or those sympathetic to the cause of the Middle Eastern state at times draw the Star of David on the Israeli flag as boundaries used to restrict the free movement of people in Gaza and other hotspots during times of war.

Contrast is one of the most frequently used techniques in caricature. It is based on shocking the audience by using number or size contrast.

Contrast works well when one situation is juxtaposed with another to enable the reader to gauge the difference between one and the other.

A political “mismatch”, as was the case during the recent parliamentary by-elections that saw zanu-pf sweeping to victory in every contested constituency, could be well illustrated by showing a giant squeezing the life out of an undersized opposition.

Numbers are everything in politics and depicting an isolated figure juxtaposed with a crowd can draw comparisons between popular and detested public officials.

Size on the other hand has probably been overused by cartoonists depicting the biblical ‘David versus Goliath’ scenario whenever an untested minnow goes up against a recognised giant.

Reversing technique ideally shows the opposite of what is expected in the natural world.

When the Bulawayo based side, Chicken Inn beats a football giant such as Dynamos, CAPS UNITED or Highlanders, illustrating a rooster chasing or beating up a strongly-built man reverses the natural roles of humans and chickens while at the same time gives a visual indicator to sports news.

Other roles often reversed by cartoonists include man and women, people and animals as well as the rich and the poor.

Inter-textuality is a popular technique in all media of visual communication of postmodern world.

It is based on creating a new mean­ing by referring to existing texts and contexts; by making the assumption that the viewer is familiar with those texts and contexts.

It is used in wide variety of media; including in film, theatre and posters.

Those familiar with scenes from the 1972, 1974 and 1990-produced crime drama, ‘The Godfather’ would have seen how some scenes from it have been adopted and appropriated into various sections of the popular culture.

Caricature is also getting its share from this technique.

Following the 7-1 humiliation of Brazil by Germany during last year’s FIFA World Cup, caricatures showing the famous Rio statute of Jesus Christ crying, weeping or covering its eyes appeared all other the world.

Inter-textuality works only when the assumption that readers know the referenced scenes is correct.

This is why some foreign editorial cartoons may struggle to hit the right chords with local readers.

A common misconception is that caricatures are only about distorting and making funny faces.

It is a lot more than that.

Cartoonists often liken the art of caricature to the shenanigans of a young, naught boy who speaks without any real authority but points out the shortcomings of anyone, including society or its prominent personalities.

Caricatures do make whoever is the subject in them angry for most of the time, but for readers, that big nose or that full stomach coupled with the meaning of the overall composition may well be priceless.

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