Obscure Beasts I
Obscure Beasts I

Mixed media on paper (coal, engraving ink, pastels, ink, watercolour, pigments, glue) 115cm x 86cm | 2018

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Obscure Beasts II
Obscure Beasts II

Mixed media on paper (coal, engraving ink, pastels, ink, watercolour, pigments, glue) 115cm x 86cm | 2018

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Obscure Beasts XII
Obscure Beasts XII

Mixed media on paper (coal, engraving ink, pastels, ink, watercolour, pigments, glue) 100cm x 76cm | 2018

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Obscure Beasts I
Obscure Beasts I

Mixed media on paper (coal, engraving ink, pastels, ink, watercolour, pigments, glue) 115cm x 86cm | 2018

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OBSCURE BEASTS

Exhibition of Artworks by Chantal Meza

What is left to imagine when the body is absent? How can we return something of the human when its very presence is denied? What can be revealed about the monstrosity of annihilation? How can we aesthetically testify to suffering without glossing over the complexities of human loss? And how can we expose how the lines between perpetrators, victims and witnesses are blurred beyond all certainty? Obscure beasts emerge through the violent traces torn into the flesh of the canvas and its mutilated landscapes of historical despair. They dance with raw realities of human misery and its unnecessary deaths. From a distance, the beasts take on many different shapes, though witnesses already project what is subconsciously embedded in their archives of hope and torment! Upon closer inspection the landscape itself is too close and yet still out of reach, confounding any attempt at forensic certainty. It is full of lines of miscommunication, which subtly revealing tortured bodies and disfigured forms, draw the viewer into the scene like some unwitting accomplice. The shame of being human takes hold. Am I not complicit? Am I still not the animal they said I always were? So, they inevitably withdraw from the intimacy. The most brutal landscapes of devastation always prove easier to view than the murder of a single wretched soul by demons who look all too familiar and all too human in their brutalizing states. But there is more at stake here. The wounds existed long before the lines were made visible for all to now see and witness, again.

 

Yet the real mask of mastery is to call all this violence abstract. Or it is to insist that one must get closer to the bodies, sleep with the corpse, so that a more affective theory of the human becomes more apparent. Two visions of purity. The technical and the critical; neither of which took the abstract seriously. Still, the obscure beasts continue to defy the essence of things. They show it was always about necessity. The framing of life as survival, makes beasts of us all. And yet still they recoil at the sight of red consuming the black, swallowing the void and haunting Rothko in his grave. But don't they see, the red too has so many meanings; seeping out of the darkest centers of the unknown earth when called upon, only to color the primordial flames whose tales we are yet to fully decipher. 

Disappear. Where?
Within the fire
Let my pain, your anger
Their fear and dementia
Burn in the flames that my body is now
Listen…
Become the fire
What does it say?
I am solemn, my tremor is intense
Savage
The sound of my flames, reaches you
You feel it, there, in the heart
The heat of my body penetrates your chest
It burns your eyes
Those eyes that do not forget
I'm there, in your hands
They are burning 
Just like your feet
Yes, your feet
You want to run away, you want to burn
Because I
I am already fire
The fire that consumes
And rises with the air
The fire that burns us
Ignited ones that disappear

 

 

 

Theatre of the Disappeared. Act Two

Obscure Beasts

Brad Evans & Chantal Meza (2022)