Chop Suey (1929) – Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper’s picture of social realism is comprised from a composition of multi-coloured geometric rectangles and depicts a scene within a Chinese restaurant. In the centre foreground are two women (both believed to be based on Hopper’s wife, Josephine) who appear to have an ambiguous relationship. They mirror each other’s solitary and aloof demeanour across a bright table in green and purple cloche hats. There is no tactile interaction, and the lady in green hides her hands in a defensive manner under the table, suggesting uneasiness. The four figures depicted are meeting for a social event, but the irony lies in a mutual lack of interest and spontaneity, which leaks through their detached facial expressions. A man in the background talking with a female friend seems to enjoy his cigarette more than his date. Hopper catches the each person’s loneliness despite them being in a public, open space. A mixture of natural and artificial light is seen throughout the composition; the sun reflects off the billboard directly onto the white tables and the woman in green, giving her a ghostly pallor.

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