About the Picture
The portrait is of an individual contemplating a difficult problem: the perils of instinct contra idealism. His conflict
manifests darkly as a smiling phantom on the left hand side of the composition. This is a shadowy problem, which resonates
across the peaceful scene. Two allegorical narratives stand on each of the figures shoulders. A young girl catches his eye
with her kite on one side; a tower of animals totters suggestively on his other. The tower of animals is based on an image
I discovered on my foundation course in art and design. Our first exercise was to produce a large automatic drawing; mine
was a comparative between a pile of creatures and an embracing couple. Initially these beasts had been used to comment on
the closeness of human desires, especially sexual ones, to a natural balance grounded in conflict. As I have continued to
use the image, conflict has been replaced by a ridiculous or absurd notion of nature as a circus act (wolves, bears and deer,
have been replaced by snakes foxes and giraffes). The kite flier presents a more obvious paradox: tethered freedom. Keeping
these two symbols in mind, behind the figure we see a vase of flowers and a distant copse of trees.
Click on the image to see the picture in more detail.