This body of work, Images of Africa, was inspired by a trip I took to Kenya with my family in late 2007. It was amazing to watch the changing light and the wakening of all the animals in the bush. I was especially struck by the primal lack of self-consciousness of the animals. -- how their very survival seemed rooted in a profound intuition, so attuned to the immediate environment around them. They had incredible gracefulness and efficiency of movement, as if they were able to sense the activity and vibrations around them.
To be in these vast undeveloped spaces is extraordinary. Man has evolved in so many ways, but in so many other ways remains so helpless. To witness the birth of some creature in a field, one realizes that at that very moment, he begins a life-long training process in survival. The singleness and intensity of purpose, and the purity of this, are striking. Human beings require so many more crutches and material things to stay alive, and are constantly distracted by a barrage of information, in contrast to the relative simplicity and self-reliance of wild animals. I wondered how they make their choices, as compared to how we make ours. Their sense of time seemed to be based on the rhythms of the earth, rather than being late for a meeting and stuck in traffic.
Another theme that became obvious was violence, though in different forms. In the bush, one will see graphically an animal killing another for food. But right after we arrived in Kenya, the government held elections, which then erupted in civil war. Days after we visited Naivasha on Christmas day, where I was rock-climbing in a national park, one ethnic group locked some women and children of another group into a church and burned them. One doesn’t see animals committing mass slaughter of another kind - only killing for food. Is it a moral and ethical code which they have that we as humans lack, or is it just that their brains aren’t wired to act in that manner?
In my paintings, I have strived to give a sense of place that is both intimate and vast: the scenes around camp, and the efforts to be civilized in wild and unprotected spaces, and how I imagine the animals are thinking and feeling as they continue in their daily struggles to survive.