Saturday, May 11, 2013

Robert Jackson: Gummy Lover

Here's another Gallery Henoch artist: Robert Jackson.

Once when I was riding on the subway in New York City, I saw a little boy who had a small toy shark in one hand and a small toy dinosaur (a triceratops) in the other hand.  He was gleefully entertaining himself by creating a mock battle between these two creatures.

Now, I once took an animal behavior course in college and I know that two predators of two different species rarely just fight each other for the fun of it.  Two creatures from two different periods of time, one a water-dweller and one a land-dweller, never fight it out.  So this was really amusing to me - to see this little kid staging a battle between a shark and a triceratops.  I think aggression and competition are so deeply ingrained in us that we love imagining these hypothetical battles.  I certainly did when I was a kid.

So Jackson's painting resonated with me on this level.  We see what some child might have staged - a toy dinosaur is gobbling up gummy bears. He had a dinosaur and some gummy bears and he put two and two together and came up with this scenario.

To me it represents how readily we absorb the perceptions of our environments and reify them.  This painting both makes sense and doesn't make sense.  It's absurd that a dinosaur would attack gummy bears, but on a deeper level even children understand and have no problem with the nature of a universe dominated by the second law of thermodynamics and a dog-eat-dog world, so such a bizarre and hypothetical encounter becomes real to us.

Can we also interpret this painting as an allegory?  Is the dinosaur an aggressive, violent and malicious element that must be extirpated from our lives (like the minotaur)?  Are the gummy bears innocent little sacrificial lambs that must be protected and saved? 

I think I'm spending too much time thinking about this painting....:P

Here is Jackson's latest dinosaur painting:

It's almost a parody of the obsession an archeologist might have to categorize old fossils of strange creatures.  Does this obsession come from a childhood (childish?) inclination?  After all, who made the T-Rex the "king" of the dinosaurs???!!!

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