Last year I did some experimental work on converting screen captures of the California wild fires to surrealist art. My goal was to show the pain of the event, while at the same time casting it into the realm of surrealism.
I watched countless live feeds of the fires, having in some cases to distance myself from what I was seeing. I was not just watching from afar. I was trying to place myself in the shoes of those watching their homes destroyed by the flames. After several dozen decent screen captures, I set to work with just a single image to experiment with the concept of pain and surrealism.
After I was through, I set the experiment aside to consider its impact as an art form and also its impact upon me the artist. Was it something worth pursuing? Was it too painful for myself? Was it too painful for those intimately involved in the events? Was I walking on ground that was too treacherous to be on?
Then I thought about Van Gogh. Settings aside his genius as a painter and his craziness as a man. He was able to capture the anguish of men and women and cast that anguish into a surreal beauty. "The Potato Eaters" done in 1885 showed peasants around a rickety table, sharing a meager meal of potatoes and tea. It is strikingly real yet surreal. He did not fear showing the pain and struggle of those around him.
Then I considered another artist. Picasso. Picasso. In 1937 Picasso created one of his greatest works "Guernica". In his amazingly complex and unusual style, he portrayed the bombing of Guernica, Spain during the Spanish Civil War. But he did so in the surreal style that he was so well known for. But the pain is still there. The anguish still remains.
There are many more examples of this need to cast the atrocities of man into surrealism that allows us to see the pain, while stepping back from it.
So with that thought in mind, I decided to begin a new series "Pain, Struggle & Surrealism", using the tools of today's media saturated art world to tell the tales of today's anguish.
The wild fires were experiments. They've taught me a lot. Now its time to watch the world. I am beginning with the 2019 Hong Kong Freedom Riots. We'll see where it takes us.