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David Alexander Smith's Paintings and Drawings

The Purge

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The Purge 2004
purgesmall.jpg
Pen on paper 21x29 cm

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About the Picture

From the window of my flat in Liverpool, across the street I could see an open park, with a series of tower blocks lining its far side. Cars with gangs of kids would pull up, and dissipate into this landscape. It is this memory, and the paintings of Michael Collins, my friend and fellow painter at the Liverpool School of art, who rendered Runcorn's council estates so wonderfully, that influence the scenery of this work. As an idea, the composition follows a curve beginning with the three snakes in the bottom right of the picture and ending with the ship in the top right: its theme is release, and expulsion of history. This purge occurs both at a personal and a mythological level. It is simultaneously seen according to the conclusion of the scapegoat complex as explained in Adorno and Horkenheimer's Dialectic of Enlightenment and by a personal journey that ultimately purges the self of blame and transfers negativity onto the past. The snakes appear three times, bringing a glass of blood red wine. A world is transformed, taking on a human form: the fox runs from the urban park; he is reduced to scavenging. The two figures find their arms caught in the poise of work: typing fingers. Above their heads three ghosts hold up the visage of nature: a plucked leaf. Another fox embraces his new civilized life; his nose leads him to a panicked man who has thrown out a cask of water, a soldier with laurel leaves and medals applauding the sacrifice of a pig, and naked women who carries a bust on her head as a beacon. A boat rests on the horizon: an escape perhaps?

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