Nietzsche and the Horse

Friedrich Nietzsche was a hugely influential German philosopher. Much misunderstood and misrepresented, he is perhaps best known for his notion of the Will to Power.

I have painted him embracing a horse, a reference to the event which is generally considered to be the point of his mental breakdown.

From Wikipedia:

On January 3, 1889, Nietzsche suffered a mental collapse. Two policemen approached him after he caused a public disturbance in the streets of Turin. What actually happened remains unknown, but an often-repeated tale states that Nietzsche witnessed the whipping of a horse at the other end of the Piazza Carlo Alberto, ran to the horse, threw his arms up around its neck to protect the horse, and then collapsed to the ground.

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A Moral Compass (triptych)

This work is a triptych of paintings inspired by the works of Cranach the Elder, a German Renaissance painter whose naive figurative stylings I find particularly appealing. His preoccupation with mythological and religious imagery succinctly demonstrates the power of visual art in times of widespread illiteracy. Cranach was also a friend of Martin Luther (who’s moral outrage at the corrupt Catholic Church led to a new branch of Christianity).

The paintings are made on a surface of 1980s comics, which may be considered morality tales in themselves. Comics provide simple stories of good versus evil, echoing the framework of the society they represent – Judeao/Christian moral landscape which in many ways remains unchanged since the Renaissance.

I have denied the figures their beauty by replacing their heads with skulls. A reminder that all of us are born condemned to die, that corporality is always hiding just beneath our skin. For those who believe in an ‘afterlife’, how we conduct ourselves inside our fleshy vessels impacts greatly on what happens after death.

I have placed the paintings in frames of my own construction, embedded with other signifiers of childhood moral gameplay; marbles, toy soldiers and cowboys & indians and other drossy ephemera.

Corporate Governance

Corporate Governance is a phrase used to describe the set of ‘guidelines’ for good business behaviour. The act of commercial enterprise, and Capitalism as a whole, has no explicit moral component, indeed the actions which led to the current financial crisis highlight how big business, motivated by profit, can produce large scale behaviour which many consider to be ‘amoral’ , and perhaps even criminal.

Corporate governance is an attempt to place an ethical framework around an inherently amoral activity.

The three paintings are titled ‘Introduction’, ‘Negotiation’ and ‘Execution’, representing the ‘sales cycle’ of a business interaction.