A lot of art bores me. Not all of it. Not everyone’s. But most of it fails to stimulate. I visit dozens of art galleries, museums, exhibits, and fairs every year—so much of what I see is less inspiring than a brick wall or a sidewalk. The reason I keep going is because every so often, and quite unexpectedly, I will see an artwork that makes me gasp. My head exits time, space melts, and the moment stretches into a new dimension of hyper-reality.
That is a very important sensation: it is the awe of understanding that a human did this, and it empowers you to believe you can do something profound, too.
But humans did not invent art or beauty. A hundred million years before the Earth contained anything resembling a person, early flowers were in full bloom, beckoning busy-bee visitors, and dinosaurs were spreading their feathers—feathers!—not for flight but for beauty.
The modern Art World, although it has undoubtedly resulted in some amazing artifacts, is distorted because it’s built on separation, not love, which is a problem. I know that it’s built on separation because most art by today’s wonderful, successful, living painters is intentionally inaccessible to the public. Affordable reproductions of contemporary art are rarely sold and fake scarcity is created with numbered prints. Metaphorically, it is often so abstruse that it requires a detailed explanation to appreciate.
Our societal psychosis is the product of art that has separated us from nature in the name of egoistic human-centered intellectualism. Because we have lost touch with our instincts about beauty (and relinquished our power to aesthetics experts), because we have stopped paying attention to the animals and plants, we are at a moment where our whole planet is quite literally on the verge of burning down.
I am not here because I went to the right art school. I am here because the art I make resonates with the child in every human being—our inherent instincts about beauty— and this resonance is amplified by the democratizing power of the Internet.
The era of excluding animals, landscapes, plants from high art is over. Right now. Because I declare it. It can no longer be associated with kitsch because championing the natural world over mechanistic chaos is the most important issue of our time. The thousands of people who follow my work revere animals and plants, too—those prints are the #1 sellers on my website. Why? Because deep down human beings need it, andthey know it’s important. I don’t want my art to be just something that’s fashionable or looks good with furniture right now.
What will you see in this upcoming show?
Every painting here is an affirmation of the single most important message in the world: we are not separate from the animals and plants. For example, Madame Saluki, the dog on the couch, looks like a debutante posing for a photograph. Her eyes are saying I know what you are doing. Just because I can’t talk doesn’t mean I’m not highly aware. Tiger Fire is about a once-omnipotent creature whose environment is burning...on the fundamental level, I want you to see what a tiger looks like at life scale, what jungle plants look like. We have other beings as well: futuristic women who are the leaders of the era ahead.
We have to think of animals as equals: like us, they are divine beings. Enlightened humans already understand this and indulge: the MangHoe Lassi portrait is about blurring gender separations as much as it’s about blurring the person/creature divide, becoming a flamboyant artist bird peacocking in front of others because you love the way you look and everyone wants to see it.
The hero of this show is an artist. Not me—the bowerbird! You can see his portrait and a sculpture of his bower. Claiming that an animal is capable of art, a behavior we cherish as so singularly human, feels like a heresy. Yet, to me, it’s so apparent that the bowerbird a visual and performance artist. I see the way this bird looks at his canvas— the bower, his mating stage—and thinks Oh that’s pretty, that shiny marble looks so pretty next to that bottle cap. Just like an artist.
In Ritual in Pairing, ultimately, I am the bowerbird. I’ve arranged a bunch of beautiful objects in a design and I’m going to prance around in a dance, all in an effort for you to feel inclusion and amazement. I want you experience the “gasp, I’m in love with the arrangement of these colors—wow”!
The next rebellion will be a non-rebellion. I want to be the champion of beautiful, non- rebellious art.