Michael Leunig

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Melbourne based cartoonist, Michael Leunig, is an outstanding artist whose works speak to the nature of current human conditions. Leunig uses simple imagery accompanied with metaphors to stimulate different reactions in the viewer. In one of his works viewers spot a clown hiding in the shadows behind the curtains, and an opening where viewers can depict a huge crowd. The large audience share the same expression: they can be viewed as either unhappy or angry. Frowns and snarls are found clearly on the faces of these audiences. Their anonymity is further expressed through the lack of detail extending from the first row, as the faces are less clear. However this is enough for the reader to understand that everyone in the crowd is following the example of the audience in the first row. Clearly they belong in the same group as unfriendly and uneasily satisfied audiences. The lone clown is making sure his presence is not known to audience, as he is just hiding behind the curtains. On his face viewers will depict that he is unhappy, and maybe even fearful of showing himself. He does not belong. Viewers will then try to place themselves in the large comical shoes of the clown, and can arrive to a conclusion that he is afraid of disappointing such a large crowd. The clown is trying to fit in to the expectations of the large crowd. He is trying to belong. The use of contrast in the lighting clearly separates the clown and the large audience. Leunig has separated the cartoon to two obvious sides: the clown in the shadows and the audience in the light. This technique creates two different focus points, unlike most of his other works where there is only one focus point, and the background strengthens that singular focus point. This technique also clearly informs readers of the contrast within both subjects, and how they do not belong with one another. Irony is also used to portray the lack of belonging within the cartoon. Clowns are viewed as joyful and whimsical...
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