These works dramatise the familiar in order to create a more seductive dimension, which might cause the viewer to drift elsewhere, to a strange place where worlds collapse and intersect. Nature is depicted as transient and ephemeral within ambiguous environments that reverse or rearrange ordered thinking. Humanity is seen as suspended between aid and attack, or support and threat, while also intrinsically linked to the natural world. Paradoxical relationships between nature and culture emerge.
Inspired by the myths anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss examined in his book The Raw and the Cooked (1964), I have used animals as metaphors for human behaviour. In these Brazilian myths, the deer represents water and is diametrically opposed to the fire, hence its role smouldering fire or pumping water. However, the paintings add a contemporary dimension to these ancient myths by examining an extreme form of cooking: the combustion of fossil fuels.
Each of these works contains mediations between raw nature (oil) and cooked nature (its burning). While each painting’s subject is that of transformation (from nature to culture), the paintings are equally objects of transformation. The content of one painting may be perceived as the inverse of another. In Ground Control (2004), ancient clubmosses (Lycopodiums), fern-like plants that were the basis of what constitutes much of our fossil fuel reserve today, are transformed into a consumable, Shell Oil. In Coalface (2004), coal is burnt and consumed. This system allows me to create an open narrative between works, which is ideological without being overly didactic.