April 2, 2020

Is this the real thing, or is it just fantasy?

Lani Macdonald, 50

Elephant phobic, it surprised me that a photograph of a heard of elephant inspired me to wander through this challenging journey of an African experience, glimpses captured on a canvas. Multi-layered, this painting reflects not just one, but four elephants! My question is: “How real is this? Ecologically, there is no truth in the animals featuring here, as they don’t relate, depend on or even feed from one another. Binding them together though, is the energy of the bushveld, the dust clouds under a warm sun, the coolness of life-given water at the river…their common enemies. Can artists distort what God created perfect? Illustrating a realistic version of an elephant, did I create fantasy with the illusion of zebra, characterised by their black and white stripes, without using a single drop of black paint? Was it effective to use the freedom and rhythm of the colours and patterns in the negative space, adding buffaloes with an outline and a lively, flock of eyeless birds. As artists we can manipulate our inspiration by eliminating, exaggerating, fuzzing out, cropping…but never distorting the characteristics that identify a living being! We see through knowledge and experience, and that is real!

Shingwedzi, Oil450 x 600 mm