The Disaster of War
Aside from my portrait practice, war and conflict has been the subject of much of my recent artwork. The unchecked march of ISIS in the middle east first prompted me to address this subject. The preparation for the coming war against China reinforced my interest. The political climate that was feeding this frenzy was the inspiration behind my painting “Alleged Assault on Pax by Mars”.
With the Russian invasion of Ukraine I felt a compulsion to work full time on “Men Wrestling” and “The Disasters of War”. Even though I was neglecting more commercial work, I felt it was important to make a statement with these paintings.
What was the point?
The Israel-Hamas war has left me feeling empty. The brutality of it has shocked me, and I have been appalled by people’s reactions to it. I have no desire to pick up my paintbrushes and say anything about this war. Other than it disgusts me. Man disgusts me. We are no more than beasts.
So in this dark mood I heard an interview with legendary war photographer Don McCullin, where he spoke about how depressed he was with the present conflict.
‘I am slightly depressed in a way, because I think everything I’ve done concerning international conflict, everything I have contributed to showing how awful it is, I think has been a waste of time really.’
‘I’ve looked at so many wars, I’ve been in so many wars, and nothing has changed.’
The BBC interview: Acclaimed war photographer: ‘I don’t believe I ever made difference’
He summed up exactly how I was thinking, and got me wondering if art really can make a difference. Producing my anti-war paintings may be no more than a cathartic experience for me. If that is the case, what really is the point in painting them?
I think I will just concentrate on painting portraits from now on.