Much of my work is about observing the visual language that we share, that we are fluent in, even if we are not aware of that fluency. Recently a friend explained to me that there are four phases in learning a language.
Phase 1. Understanding the spoken language
Phase 2. Speaking the language
Phase 3. Writing the language
Phase 4. Dreaming in the language
Much of the work in this are show dreamlike images that explore the relationship between humans and nature. These hallucinatory type images show humans and animals melting into each other, forming, blobbing and living in each others bodies. In each I was trying to capture an uncomfortable tension, a complexity I see in my own relationships. A horse made of people, girls riding a giant shark, a man that becomes the animal caged at a zoo; each image proposes a perspective that I feel I do see on this simple subject. There is little harmony or tree hugging.
Pareidolia is a phenomenon where faces, or animals are seen in natural settings. A rock shaped like an face, a face that seems to be on the surface of mars for example. It is a trait that humans have that may at one time been of some use for our survival. I have always been interested in how little information is needed to explain complicated forms, or for forms to elicit emotion. To some degree this is pareidolia at work, a human instinct to see ourselves in the world around us.
Some of the images are of a natural world we are overly familiar with; deer are that for me. These are animals that barely hold on to any wildness, they are gentle to the point that we feel they need our care and also want to exterminate them as pests. Two typical human reactions to the urban wildlife interface. When I thought to begin to paint deer I wondered; can a wild thing be mundane?
The deer that are so common in rural America are often seen on the side of the highway (rural America is often seen from the Highway). They only become important when they step into the road and become a hazard. But even then, the common wisdom is to hit them since steering around them is more dangerous.
Yet, if we see a deer with its leg stuck under a boulder; would we not feel compelled to push the boulder aside to rescue it? We are a predator to these creatures. We are then stuff of their nightmares. This is true of all the animals painted in this show. Sharks, horses, and deer. The menace is present from both sides. These could be the dreams of a human, or of the creatures they depict. Creatures that are so common, that have spent so much time close to humans that they have become fluent in our language. These creatures have begun to “dream in our language”
The new works in this show explore a theme that I have been interested in for many years: How images can explain thoughts that are “in between” our understanding. Images that are on the way somewhere, traveling, changing, melted by spring.
What I look for when I am drawing are not “ideas” they often feel the opposite. Ideas are often clear, whereas the things I like to draw often seem beyond me. The best drawings feel like they are resolving, or diagraming complex thinking that I am not even aware of, or able to understand. —Geoff McFetridge