The Tree-of-Life Sends its Energy Underground Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016
TREE-OF-LIFE & DRONES
Here, I have two paintings where the age-old transcultural/religious tree-of-life stands as a beacon in landscapes that are threatened. Indeed, life is threatened. Unmanned air vehicles [UAVs] or drones loiter in dark skies. These Reaper drones are each armed with four hellfire missiles and two guided missiles.
My last post talked about the sky becoming a contested place...a place where surveillance and attack threats from above create an artificial sky. It is a sky to be feared...one where distance has collapsed and access to the beauty of cosmological perspectives is obscured. Here, in this post I offer the tree-of-life as a symbol of hope. It is a symbol which is shared by many cultures and religions, including the three Abrahamaic religions of Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Now, that's something to think about!
The tree-of-life can 'speak' to hearts and minds. I know this from personal experience. In 2006 I had an exhibition at the Abu Dhabi Cultural Centre, [UAE]*. People from all over the region came to see the show. On a daily basis I had the most incredible conversations - all triggered by my paintings particularly those that depicted the tree-of-life. These conversation I call 'agenda-less, but not directionless'.
I suggest the power of age-old symbols is still fervent but, especially in the West, we have lost our connections to them. We prefer the transience of fads and fashion delivered via gadgets and gizmos...at our peril!
In these two paintings, The Tree-of-Life Sends Its Energy Underground and Fragmented, the trees-of-life, representing all life, are vulnerable to attack. The drones certainly seem to be targeting them. Yet, the trees have scattered their seeds, sap and embedded their roots across the landscape. Potential new trees hibernate in wait, laying dormant until it is safe. The landscapes seem ripe, fiery and fertile, ready to re-charge. Yet... these paintings could also be 'read' a different way. The trees could be 'wounded', close to death, their 'blood' seeping into the landscape. Maybe?
These paintings can be viewed either as harbingers of catastrophe or harbingers of hope. Depends on your perspective and belief in the power of symbols.
Fragmented Gouache on paper 30 x 42 cm 2016
* I have previously written about my Abu Dhabi experience: Here are two posts:
REDLAND ART AWARD
This LINK takes you to a page where you can see pictures of all the finalist paintings, including mine Where There's Life There's...