Oil on canvas
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Lena Viddo (American, b. 1966).
"My paintings blend classical themes, pop culture and the natural world into allegorical commentaries in which I explore the ambivalence and discomfort I feel in relation to popular culture and the status quo. My list of concerns is long and I focus on narcissism, self-interest, hypocrisy, the tyranny of beauty, the idolatry of money and materialism.
My paintings address these concerns through human and animal interactions in a luxuriously stylized world of dark glamour, part-fantasy and part-natural landscape. I like to think of my Earthly Delights works as cabinets of curiosity where my human characters are cryptograms staring out at the viewer with undetermined expressions of longing and curiosity; bewildered, bedazzled or bemused by the wonder and the horror that comes with life on Earth today. I leave it up to the viewer to decide.
Animal subjects—domestic and feral—appear in many forms and roles spanning character types that run the gamut from antagonist to hero and all shades in between. My work depicts a focused reality not tethered to realism. It evokes a life on the edge of the incarnate. I like to disturb and entertain all in the same show. I attempt to visually seduce my audience, making the viewer see and then see again. My paintings are filled with symbolisms and references extending across huge territory. I like to think of my paintings as beautiful contradictions inlaid with hidden messages for the viewer to decipher.
The title of this work is Moon Age Daydream. I created the work for an exhibition Heroes that I had in the former residence of the late rockstar artist David Bowie in 2019. I created the painting (42" x 86" oil on canvas) directly inspired by the poetry and lyrics of Bowie's song Moon Age Daydream which opens with "I'm an Alligator…" For me, Bowie was an idol and distant artistic mentor through his example. Ever since childhood, I found his songwriting and stage animal presence to be a wellspring of inspiration for my work in the studio. I am often transported by music and poetry in my work, drawing from other famous songwriters and poets, most especially Nick Cave, Leonard Cohen, David Bowie and the poets Dante Alighieri, Virgil, Rainer Maria Rilke and Pablo Neruda, to name a few of the more notable on my list.
Many of my paintings feature animal subjects which first appear to be predators and feral creatures, but beneath this exterior, my creatures mirror human psychology. Predator, prey, pack mentality, hierarchy, territorial desire, procreative drive, social positioning, hunger and isolation are personified in their expressions. I contend that we are all animals ruled by the beastly desires embedded in our DNA and biology." —Lena Viddo
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