Strangers Of Commanding Aspect



Beast Dead - Sketch   2014   Acrylic on paper




                 "We need animals. Animals don't need us, but we need them. 
We constantly look for any kind of connection 
we can possibly get to them." 
Britta Jaschinski (photographer)    


                 
         I try to make sense in pictures of what most often   
           eludes us in our interactions with other animals.






Beast Dead I   2014  Acrylic on paper  





We seldom recognise that the anxiety in our relationship with other animals comes from both sides, because we are lulled and comforted by the false assumptions we make about our dominion, and an equally false idea of “their” cooperation.







Untitled 2014  Acrylic on panel









Untitled   2014  Acrylic on panel










Untitled   2014  Acrylic on paper





An aspect of my current practice has been to find ways to represent non-human animals while keeping the meaning with them. (Art) Historically we accept that, more often than not, the animal depicted is not actually the work’s subject.

In many of my new works the idea of human refinement has been my starting point. Our refinements of skills and taste… in what we eat and wear, and in how we live… is what reassures us of our difference. We are elegant, urbane and worldly wise. Our sophistication is the crowbar between us that usually prevents a sympathetic and intelligent engagement with animals and animal-ness.


Untitled   2014  Acrylic on panel




Untitled  2014  Acrylic on panel






My Beast mostly avoids a familiar form since it’s not fur or smell, but the particular 
intimacy of mutual need I wish to grasp intelligently.  





Beast Dead II   2014  Acrylic on paper 





Untitled  2014  Acrylic on panel







Untitled  2014  Acrylic on panel






Beast Dead III     2014  Acrylic on paper







Sketch   2014  Acrylic on paper







Dog in Water  2014  Acrylic on paper



I've found few visual artists who’ve manage to capture this particular emotional complexity, but someone I do look to in this respect is the photographer, Britta Jaschinski, who photographs animals in zoos.
In his book The Postmodern Animal (2000, Reaktion Books), Steve Baker quotes her as saying:

"We need animals. Animals don't need us, but we need them. We constantly look for any kind of connection we can possibly get to them."
It’s a viewpoint that chimes for me because it acknowledges the anxiety I sense. I identify too with her focus away from – though close to - the physical detail, meaning that the animal photographed is often absent from the image or barely decipherable.








Beast In A Dangerous Landscape   







Beast Leaves 2012 (installation view)
wool dust and archival glue on paper, each panel 39cm diameter




(click on images to view complete image)

John Berger wrote a story about a lake in which the lake has a voice, a history and a memory of that history.  

It begins ...

“I am an alpine lake. I measure 750 metres by fifty metres. I am about seventy metres deep. One of my neighbours to the west is an alpage called Annely. I am called Falin. I reflect with my eyes shut. When I do this indiscriminately, you, you see dark green, nothing else.”

When asked about the “borderline” between the self and other in the writing process. Berger suggests it is a process of osmosis. 

“That which has become part of one’s own experience and life is already other people ... the self is already collective”.

In the end he, says, he realised the story of the lake is the story of Narcissus “seen from the other point of view. ... For a while I thought I was writing about a lake which was out there, I was writing actually about something that was already inside me, although I was not writing about myself.”

                John Berger, The Act of Approaching, an interview with Nikos Papastergiadis











Beast Well-Clothed  2011

wool dust and archival glue on paper, 55 X 44cm






The crisis-of-the-earth of our age is nothing if not a reflection of humanity’s chaos and muddled thinking.  Our actions say “we cannot tolerate change” while ensuring that change will be total and uncontrollable.  In our relationships with the non-human animals who inhabit the landscape with us, we’ve never advanced very far in terms of  reconciliation but refined and perfected their oppression as if seeking proof of what we regard as our superior position.  

Beast is the spectre of this most ambivalent of relationships.  Beast is my image of internal noise played out as external disturbance. It plays out the dramas that follow when private crises that lie unattended inside leak out and are exposed in shared turmoil.  The landscape around Beast both suffers and causes the effects of it’s crisis.  

Projecting the inside onto the external landscape is something individuals do.  I suspect though there's a parallel that occurs on a grand scale with peoples and nations.  It is a theme common, for instance, in Japanese Art and belief, that destructive events in nature are linked to the unresolved emotional dynamics of individuals and peoples.  Hokusai’s Wave, we know, is not just water.



Bonita Alice 2012








Beast Well-Clothed  2011
wool dust and archival glue on paper, 55 X 44cm








“..contemporary criteria for what counts as moral, sane, and rational make the assertion of intrinsic human inequality and defense of social discrimination universally impossible, let alone illegal. The same is not true for those interested in countering speciesism, whose norms are still a work in progress. ... Care and concern invariably turn into finite quantities, with never enough to go around beyond narrow human interest.”



Kalpana Rahita Seshadri in HumAnimal - Race, Law, Language  2012











Beast Well-Clothed  2011
wool dust and archival glue on paper, 55 X 44cm






Beast Well-Clothed  2011
wool dust and archival glue on paper, 55 X 44cm










Divine Acts And Errors Of Judgement  2010
acrylic paint on paper, each panel 37cm diameter




Derrida proposed that, contrary to the idea that nature mourns it’s muteness, rather it is nature’s melancholy that renders it mute.

“... a mute but audible lament through sensuous sighing and even the rustling of plants...”

Jacques Derrida in The Animal That Therefore I Am







Nothing Remained But Dry Stone And A Vague Idea In The Minds Of Its People  2010
wool dust and archival glue on paper
triptych approx 69cm H







Treachery, Lies And Lamentation   2012
wool dust and archival glue on paper
each panel approx 37cm diameter








Folly, Deceit And The Risk Of Thunder  (installation view)  2012
wool dust and archival glue on paper
each panel approx 37cm diameter








Beast, Enraged, Rises And Becomes Vapour  (installation view)  2012
wool dust and archival glue on paper
each panel approx 37cm diameter










Untitled (Landscape)  2011
watercolour, 51 X 34cm







Untitled (Landscape)  2011
watercolour, 41X50cm








Eulogy And Euphemism  (studio view)   2011
watercolour  each approx 35cm diameter








The Stallions  (installation view)  2012
watercolour (pairs) each panel 41 X 31cm 





















The Stallions   (pairs - installation views)









The Stallions (detail)







Beast In A Dangerous Landscape, Gallery AOP, installation view






 Beast Leaves  1012, Gallery AOP, installation view






Beast In A Dangerous Landscape, Gallery AOP, installation view






 3 Folded Canvases   2011  (installation view)
oil on canvas, each approx 15- 20cm 






Beast In A Dangerous Landscape, Gallery AOP, installation view




Beast in a Dangerous Landscape, AOP, Johannesburg, October  2012

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