Pur Ti Miro
Through my artwork I want test the balance between cruelty and humour, fear and fascination, brutality and kindness by exploring the fine line between ‘adored pet’ and ‘power exerted over a dumb animal’. Previous generations’ view of animals, openly regarded them as here to be used; as a worker, or entertainment or as food. The last thing to be considered was the idea of ‘friend’.
Some animals are still used for work but even this area has taken on a notion of ‘heroic’ or ‘noble’. Should a beast (a dog) that once had such a defined area of use be allowed into the house and sit on the sofa? By bringing the animal into the home have we not elevated a servant to an equal? Do we define our ‘pets’ work as filling our need to be needed?
Cute representations of animals is not what my work is about. My beasts are not animals of the ‘Monarch of the Glen’ kind celebrating the mighty mystic power, nor are they a depiction of a fluffy youngster gambolling amongst autumn leaves. My paintings are more suggestive of ‘subversion’ rather than overt ‘rebellion’. I have used photographs of isolated events then by using Adobe Photoshop I reconstruct or translate them into everyday scenes. I create an imitation of modern life based on resemblances and inferences that come from things I have experienced directly as an antique print dealer and gun dog trainer. By using older references (Old Masters) I’ve created a clash between the very old standards of art and the immediate experiences that people are having in the modern world. By opening some kind of dialogue with the viewer about things that are happening, inside and outside the art world, I hope to demonstrate that we need to question our relationship with our pets.
While knowledge of the original Old Masterpieces might be an advantage it is not necessary to the viewer in order to enjoy my work and react to it. Instead I create images that lull the viewer into a false sense of security by providing an aura that reeks of the classics, religious icons and museums. The viewer is invited to explore the canvas by means of details and ‘stories’ that take place in the background. Their eyes travel the painting, reading these little anecdotes. In contradiction with the rarefied atmosphere of museums, I use photography and familiar objects, settings and poses to seduce the viewer into looking – it is a few seconds before the ‘absurdity’ of the situation dawns.
The ‘Hoover Dog’ and A1(M) while ‘traditional’ – still deal with notions of pet ownership, and our dealings with animals. Hoover Dog is a vacuum cleaner bag filled to overflowing with dog fur and dust – the dirty reality of pet ownership – while A1(M) makes direct reference to the usual human knowledge of a wild animal.