January 23, 2020

Can a painted image provoke more empathy than a social media image?

Judith Shaylor

Oil on paperStarving dog at 2 minutes and ten seconds, 201968cm x 112 cm

We live in a world where social media bombards us with images from all over the world of animals starved and abused. Because we are saturated with these images many of us will quickly scroll past the post; a quick swipe of our fingers on a screen will do this, or if we choose to look or watch, most often our reactions have become numbed to the point where our brains will often disconnect . Goya painted a drowning dog, and for centuries we have stared mesmerised by this image of suffering and have felt an overwhelming feeling of empathy for that particular dog. With this in mind I decided to take screen shots from video images on social media and then painted them. By recreating these images into a painted form I tried to recreate and provoke the same reaction Goya may have had when Drowning dog was first exhibited. Hopefully these fresh images will again unsettle the viewer and enable the brain to click back into gear, enabling that viewer to look in depth at the image and react both emotionally and intellectually to what is in front of him or her.