Chris Musina’s “Volatile Relationship” With Nature

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The human relationship with the natural world is a complex one that doesn’t seem to untangle anytime soon.  With animal life increasingly being abused and habitats encroached upon anxiety is understandably mounting.  Artist Chris Musina address these issues in painting and also sculpture.  Musina depicts the uglier side of the human/animal relationship.  Rather than highlight idyllic scenes of nature, he draws gruesome imagery of animal mistreatment to the forefront.  Animal carcasses are often kept as trophies, dead souvenirs of a once living creature.  Painting’s tradition of depicting killed animals is extensive – the fox hunt alone, for example, an entire genre.  Appropriately, then, Musina’s animal carcasses are not there to be admired but act as animals condemning the viewer.  They seem to be holding an accounting for their present condition in the painting as well as in a larger abstract sense. They act as a tool to deconstruct disassociation. Musina further explains his use of painting in addressing ecological and animal issues:

“Dealing directly with our increasingly volatile and uneasy relationship to the natural world, I draw from contemporary animal thought and a deep phylogeny of cultural cues. My work dismantles how we look at animals via “nature morte” painters, philosophy, hunting, museum dioramas, and the like. Manifested in life size compositions full of dark humor and bright color, I am addressing the animal as neither symbol nor object, but as subject, a subject aware of his or her own powerful symbolic nature. Painting represents the bulk of my practice precisely due to its place in the forefront of a history of representing animals. My paintings are populated with animal protagonists who stare back at the viewer in an uneasy gaze; aware of that place in our cultural history– asking for compassion, mercy, or simply to be put out of their misery.”

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