Toxical Waste – 2022/3
Oil on two joined canvasses. H108 x W122 cm
The title is derived from the pop song by Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour on his album Toxiques (1990). It has been common practice of developed countries to dump their poisonous waste in third world countries.
The senseless and unnecessary destruction wrought on Ukraine territory by Russia’s 2022 invasion initially inspired my imaging the noxious pollution of the atmosphere. No longer the welcoming vista of idyllic cloud formations in our panoramic view. This unfettered madness coalesced with the need to highlight our uncaring jettisoning of waste in capitalist (built-in redundancy) throw-away society. We care enough to sort out our detritus into various categories (bins) but then feel absolved of having to actually and effectively dispose of it. Late Industrial waste is either interred, fed into the oceans or released into the stratosphere and beyond.
Welcome to planet Earth and the dominant hominid species…..
Pot Luck: The Life of the Automobile – 2022.
Oil on canvas. H94 x W122 cm
Painting Inspired by Ilya Ehrenburg’s salient 1929 book “The life of the Automobile”. This understated masterpiece of writing is as relevant today as when it was conceived almost 100 years ago.
Pot hole dodging on Australian roads during the protracted La Niña is a game akin to dicing with death. An informal public response to this proliferation of road deterioration is to demarcate potholes with a (police-like) murder scene outline in white paint on the black bitumen surface. Here, as a sop to video artist Shaun Gladwell, the symbolic fatality is a skateboarder depicted in receding perspective.
The central figure is surrounded by a car tyre surmounted with Buffalo horns. This is a reference to Bull Bars often attached to the front of rural vehicles by drivers – to literally fend-off the danger to themselves of fatal accidents when wild animals are hit whilst travelling.
Colliding with and killing wildlife on Australian rural roads is a commonplace occurrence. Observing or causing roadkill is part of the Australian country way of life. It is often joked about and even celebrated by ‘truckies’ (large truck drivers) who often adorn the outside of their driving doors with painted symbols of their score of kills – hence the patterned wallpaper of kangaroos, echidnas and wedge tailed eagles – (Eagles are generally only hit when they are feeding off prior killed animals themselves). Notching-up kills was common practice particularly during WWII, when pilots of both sides attached painted decals of their adversaries just below their cockpits denoting the number of enemy planes shot down – which tallied-up towards them being designated as aces and treated as heroes.
Truck drivers, particularly in remote areas, often boast about going out of their way to kill animals on our roads.
There is nothing to celebrate in deliberately murdering fauna.
ps. In Broken Hill NSW there is such a proliferation of roadkill (usually caused every night by large trucks) that the City Council employs someone to pick up and clear the roads daily. If left to rot, the bodies strewn across the roads are perceived to cause distress to tourists – who are bussed-in to experience the City of The Arts from all across the country. The carcasses of the roadkill are then unceremoniously dumped in the ‘meathole’ at the City Tip.
Azikwele (‘We will not ride’)—Fare raize 1983
Oil on canvas
86 x 61.5 cm
Depicted is a burning Johannesburg Putco (Public Utility Transport Company) bus in a landscape. Note the number plate with the town and date of the painting. For me this represented a veritable picture of the South African landscape at that time and was my response to the nationwide bus boycotts. This image was one of the early works I created addressing the political issue of Apartheid South Africa. My interest in naturalistic representation became fuelled by the needs of pragmatism in the cause of agitprop art. The work is didactic in form and politically suffused in content.
The bus burns out of control. In the distance what appears to be an ambulance heads away from the destruction while the telephone wires supported overhead (perhaps representing civilisation itself) terminate at this point. The pole and transverse beam form a traditional cross used by the Romans for crucifixions, hinting at the suffering that has led to this conflagration and destruction.