The Malta Independent 12 December 2018, Wednesday

Don’t Let the dogs out

Malta Independent Sunday, 18 September 2011, 00:00 Last update: about 6 years ago

It’s called Dog City but it’s not all about dogs. Sure, a couple of images are visibly recognisable, including dogs, and some of the carcasses might even belong to dogs, but the rest is barely connectible with anything canine, unless you get the gist of what the artist is on about here. Marika Azzopardi talks to George Eynaud.

The artist is young, barely out of MCAST’s Institute of Art & Design and heading towards London and the Camberbell Arts College where he is eyeing a Masters in Fine Art. George Eynaud is baring his soul in his first solo which, for a first exhibition, is surprisingly homogenous. The last time I saw his work, he was one of 10 other MCAST artists showcasing their work in what seemed to me a very adventurous spirit. His work had stood out for its dark quality, its sombre mood and its sense of foreboding.

“My work is not as dark as it used to be,” he claims. I beg to differ. As many of his peers, he is openly disturbed by what the media presents, by the content of what it dishes out, but more importantly, by what we humans are doing about our lives. “I was born in 1990 and I believe these have been the most violent couple of decades ever. Admittedly violence has always been around but in this day and age it is more gratuitous. And I have been inspired to pick and choose ideas and images from the varied sources. I work from these images, transforming them and making them somewhat even more ambiguous and meaningful.”

There is a common theme running through the art presented by Eynaud. Dog City is about the tough life of the city, the aloneness, the continuous need to keep alive in body and spirit. Dog Fight, the first painting of this collection, stridently represents the fight for survival in what Eynaud has very clearly depicted as an urban jungle in another painting. But it is also about what man is doing to nature, thwarting it and maiming it for his own profit. The artist goes on to present something like Interior Study which leads to open-ended questions on who lived this joyless setting and how….. on what once was.

He represents the man of the city with the image of a painted man, a tattoo-decorated body whose choice of adornment is a clear indication that he wants to stand out from the crowd, the way people can only attempt to do in a crowded city. But is this man transformed by regression to tribal instinct? The painting allows Eynaud to tamper with the depiction of flesh which he admits, interests him enormously. “I have tried hard to veer away from painting the human body, to bypass the human figure, perhaps also to veer the onlooker away from discussing Bacon or Freud and a long tradition of art history.”

But human flesh is also present in what seems to be the most incongruous painting of all – Angel. The artist explains how the painting was originally the snapshot of a ranger holding a dead bird. Eynaud transformed the idea into something ambiguous, verging on the strongly symbolic, reading the crucified in the dead bird’s limp body. Is this what human nature has finally achieved – have we crucified nature?

All the 16 works except one are in oils; the exception is one which is in watercolour. Richly loaded with paint, the paintings come in a range of different sizes, but most importantly, they are in oils, a medium usually avoided by local artists due to its long process of drying. Yet Eynaud seems to have found no problem with the laboriousness of the medium – rather, he has allowed its richness to provide the paintings with a deeper character and a richer feeling of uniqueness.

Perhaps the most enduring memory of this solo presentation is the choice of monotone hues, the choice of dead flesh in a handful of canvases holding carcasses of animals and the choice of a theme which creates ripples of thoughts about human existence. Do not expect to be disturbed, but do expect to be led towards contemplation. More importantly, expect to see more of this artist who has the skill to absorb not merely by means of the subject matter selected, but most importantly by a skillful personal technique that he is mastering and moulding at a rapid pace.

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