Sunday, December 20, 2020

Last Belch of the Fish


Last Belch of the Fish 25" x 24.5"


I attend a meeting in a space that has a children’s carpet with a lily pond motif.  I have been there often enough, staring at it for long periods of time that I began to think about how I would redesign it.  So this is that piece.  The title is from a song by David E. Williams—he granted me permission to use it, which I was keen to do since it fits so perfectly.

I see dead fish-people


What inspired it beyond the carpet?  Visits to the Salton Sea, concern about habitat destruction, ocean pollution and overfishing.  Reading about animals’ emotions. A sense that animal protagonists are more affecting in some ways than human ones, after all, they are so obviously innocent in their predicament, as well as innocent of it---that ratchets up the poignancy by a more than few degrees if you ask me.

Fish are not easy subject to depict as characters without going overboard with anthropomorphic caricature.  But I tried.

This is really the only sketch I made.

Compositional concerns: trying to make the dying fish appear in a fetal sac, whilst simultaneously suggesting a planet whirling about in space.


Body Bag, 200? (I forget and I am too lazy to launch the doc to find out .


Another thing that was key in making this piece was a desire to revisit the compositional motif from “Body Bag” (2002)—I wanted to make an amorphous, almost abstract cloud that  went in and out of recognizability in terms of image.  I wanted to create the feeling of a swirling muck puddle.  

Suffocating fish
Muck puddle


 And of course, as always, I wanted to put forth a beautalist version of such.  Beautalist is my new word that I invented just this week intended to convey a brutal beauty.  I would never want to make a work that I could not look at, or consume myself.  If one is going to traffic in preachy dogma, it had better look really, really nice, which is a lesson I copped from Christian art.

Layers comprising fish pond separated.  This part was partly improvised while in progress.

Partway through.
Bubble motif: l--red/clear flash glass, Middle: blue/clear flash, r: both pieces together.


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