This stark series of acrylic paintings is entitled Collision. It features animals in various stages of the death and life cycle are set upon a square of urban space, feeling like small-scale museum installations. This show opens in Denver tonight, from 7:00pm to 10:00pm, at the David B. Smith Gallery in Denver, Colorado. Here’s what Josh Keyes has to say about it:
The inspiration for these paintings came from an old alchemists engraving from around the 16th century. The engraving consists of multiple images that illustrate a personified narrative of the chemical transformation of metals moving from one solid to disintegration and reconfiguration. The iconographic device used in this engraving is that of the archetypal king whose power shifts between tyranny and freedom.
This series of images of this alchemical engraving enchanted my imagination, and has become a grounding source for this current body of work and the work that is to come. A story evolved for me surrounding the theme of death and rebirth at the core is a meditation on transformation. These ideas had to find expression through my existing lexicon of myth and imagery, so I began to invent and develop a cast of characters and situations that for me served to interpret the essence of my source material, the “old wine new bottle” approach.
With all of my imagery they stand as metaphors, not event action or event is to be taken literally. The depiction of death or dying in this series could be seen as a relationship, the ending of a job, an inner life change. The hyenas could be that group of bullies you may have encountered after school, or the negative critical voice we all have at times in our head that keep us from living out our dreams. One could think of this work as an expression of the individual personality. We all have within us the potential for love and compassion as well as aggressive tendencies, we as a culture are capable of great communal achievement as well as the destructive and tyrannical manifestations that we have sadly seen throughout history. It is not to say that one is good and one bad, it is to acknowledge that these energies and drives are hardwired into our psychology and physiology.
- Josh Keyes