Gareth Bate

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Cosmos and Anarchy Paintings

Artist Statement
Gareth Bate

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My Cosmos and Anarchy paintings depict humans fighting a war with the cosmos. They are fighting their inevitable fate. An impossible battle. Whipping grenades into the void. Firing catapults at nothingness. Tear gas and burning buildings morph into galaxies. The series evolved out of viewing violent and chaotic photos and videos of recent global protests, riots and revolutions happening in Kiev, Cairo, Tehran, Athens, Madrid, Belfast and London. Here global turmoil plays out as part of a cosmic drama.

Cosmos and Anarchy Part 2 is the sequel to last year's loop gallery show. It introduces more violence to the work. There is a new level of desperation. These paintings were constructed using source imagery from internet news coverage combined with the random churning of paint and brushstrokes on palettes used for my ongoing Jewel Net of Indra installation. The accumulation of paint formed a universe.

Around the world people are rising up in an effort to overthrow tyrannical governments and fight injustice. The media has developed a kind of riot porn. Especially recent images of Kiev with its medieval weaponry and siege warfare. However, I realized that this work is ultimately not about the particularities of those conflicts. Unlike the source imagery, the humans in these paintings are not fighting against police or soldiers. The real battle is with an incomprehensible universe. This is a conflict that arrises out of our insecurity and fear of our own insignificance and powerlessness. The terror of the absurdity of human life. We try to defend ourselves as we battle the awesomeness of the cosmos. We compensate by stealing power, undeserved power, and destroying others. The image that kept occurring to me as I painted was the battlefield from the Bhagavad Gita, the Hindu scripture about a warrior frozen with anxiety. The real war is an internal one. He must make a choice, follow his duty, or flee.

I agree with Kenneth Clark's sentiment in Civilization: "I believe order is better than chaos, creation better than destruction. I prefer gentleness to violence, forgiveness to vendetta. On the whole I think that knowledge is preferable to ignorance, and I am sure that human sympathy is more valuable than ideology…"

Cosmos and Anarchy Part 1: Oct. 2011 - Jan. 2013
Cosmos and Anarchy Part 2: Jan 2013 - Jan. 2015
Medium: Acrylic on wood
Exhibitions: Cosmos and Anarchy, Loop Gallery, Feb 1 - 23, 2014