Why Look at Animals
1) “Bongo” mixed media on Tyvec 38x52cm 2) “Przewalski’s Horse” ink, charcoal, graphite and wash on Tyvec 55x66cm
I have depicted these subjects, being zoo animals, as highly alert but a disinterested observers of humans. This apparent indifference can be disconcerting to the zoo visitor. It represents a type of “existential dualism” as John Berger has said (Berger,J. 1980). Wild animals are both observing and observed. Who looks at who at the zoo?
The Bongo is a forest antelope from Central and Southern Africa. Its long horns and vivid striped coat make it an attractive target for game hunters. The Bongo is also susceptible to habitat loss and disease, and culturally it is not eaten by Indigenous people. Conservation measures include forest corridors between sanctuaries.
From the Mongolian steppe the Przewalski’s Horse lived as what we might call a brumby. The result of a longer breeding heritage than a feral horse the herds have an erect mane and dusky sienna coat. Captive breeding programs, from where this study came, enable it being re-introduced to the wild.
My work is multi-valent, no single viewpoint. The subject is studied several times (drawn, photographed, filmed, researched) and then composited as a non-contiguous impression. The resulting images are inter-subjective, in that the privileged artist viewpoint, may longer be valid at this end of the Anthropocene.
Berger,J.(1980) “About Looking”. New York: Pantheon, p.5.
Jack Randell lives and works in Dubbo, in South Eastern Australia. In 2008 Randell had a solo exhibition of video/paintings at Carriageworks in Sydney following a residency at Artspace. His work has been selected in prizes including Sunshine Coast Art Prize, Kilgour Prize and Hazelhurst Works on Paper. In 2012 Randell produced collaborative artworks in Germany and Spain that were included in a solo exhibition in Barcelona. His international collaboration, Ota juku (after Hiroshige), was first exhibited at the Minokamo Culture Forest Museum in Japan in February 2014. In 2015–16 Randell curated Pen to Power, an exhibition integrating health and creative journeys. In 2019 he was the winner of the Custodial Portrait Artist of the Year, exhibited at the Henry Dean Building, Sydney.