Iwan Lewis

December to January 2016

Iwan Lewis is working from David Jones' Elephant:

Elephant by David Jones

Challenges of addressing the elephant in a room.

The paintings scale was un-imposing and subject matter seemed anachronistic. Its simplicity offered an open starting point for a dialogue to take place between the piece and my personal practice.

Jones’s painting depicts an elephant confined within an architectural space, so my initial response was to set the poor animal free by placing him in his natural habitat. However I found this process was conflicting as my interference lost the moral tension that takes place in the original piece.

The color Indian yellow is shrouded in myth, many think that the origin of the color comes from elephants and water buffalo being forced to digest mango leaves, the color was then thought to be extracted from the animal’s urine. As a result of this process it’s thought that the animal was gradually poisoned as the leaves have a similar composition to poison ivy. However there’s no real evidence of this taking place. Contemplating such a tale allows a new landscape to take form, by giving myself this freedom I should realize fluidity as opposed to creating studies of Jones’s depiction.

I’ve produced an image of two figures observing the destructive aftermath of an elephant raid on a mango plantation. Another piece depicts a less ambiguous representation of a figure offering mango juice to elephant calves. Although these images are consciously removed from Jones’ composition I find myself fragmenting his painting from the shape of the trunk to its economical mouth.

As I work on the project I find myself contorting around this elephant; on the one hand it’s endearing, and yet on the other it’s opening a series of problems. However it’s within these problems I gain new ground and hopefully realize a body of work. 

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