Animal Paintings. 2014 - 2016.
“We are all connected; To each other, biologically. To the earth, chemically. To the rest of the universe atomically.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson
A caveat: this writing may only provide you with my intent in making the work, but not the meaning of the work. The meaning is solely provided by your relationship with my paintings.
For my entire adult life I felt like I live in a liminal space. I feel this liminality from the micro level of my lived day to day existence to the macro level of the global environment. All of my artwork has dealt with trying to figure out my tiny, fleeting reason for being. The work in the series “There is a light that never goes out” is about mortality. More specifically, it is about being in the space where we are aware that everything will end, but that life always continues.
There were several events that brought me to this work. Personally, I am now a father and a son. I have two young children and ageing parents. This makes me feel simultaneously fragile (since I am depended upon) and bonded within the stronger history of my bloodline. The second seemingly unrelated event that led to this work was discovering that the carcasses of whales feed the ocean floor for one hundred years: the same duration as their lives. I decided to create paintings that were about being on this threshold between living and death and back to living again.
The paintings are purposefully uncanny. The animals might be sleeping or they might be waking. They might be alive or they might be dead. The flowers might be growth or funereal flowers placed upon them. The animals could be metaphors for people, or they might just be animals. My goal is for them to exist in no particular space which allows the viewer to place them wherever they imagine.
I purposely choose animals which I find highly relatable to humans, and animals that hold majestic symbolic authority. Personally, each animal is symbolic of people that I have mourned and will likely mourn, although I doubt this autographical meaning is transferable to the viewer. They are titans humbled by time. Sadly, many of these animals are endangered and even those which aren’t may be soon. The flowers – my artistic offering to these animals – are all based on flowers which would originate from the same geographical location as the animals.
Much of artmaking is an attempt to offer some permanence to life, and I have thought about that while making this work. The creatures in these paintings are consistently in situ. They are representations of life, but are equally merely symbolic. Ultimately and most importantly, I see these paintings as hopeful. The one bond which links every living being together is our fragility, and that is undeniable glorious.