Art news

The eco-surrealism of Josh Keyes

…painter Josh Keyes illustrates a dream-like collision between a manmade environmental crisis and the natural world.

Story by Margaret Badore - Source: http://www.treehugger.com
Photo © Josh Keyes

Photo © Josh Keyes

The Call I

At once disturbing and beautiful, painter Josh Keyes illustrates a dream-like collision between a manmade environmental crisis and the natural world. His art combines the exacting detail of a natural history textbook and the irrationality of the surrealists.

Photo © Josh Keyes

Photo © Josh Keyes

Scorch I

Keyes told Art Threat that seeing a paper mill pollute the Puget Sound was a formative experience:

“I remember walking along the Ruston Way beach in Tacoma, Washington and seeing along the shore, thick frothy foam with many dead fish. Our family joined a group of neighbors who were also concerned about the safety of the water and organized to enforce more regulations on the industrial plants in the area. Over time they achieved success and the Tacoma waterway is now a public attraction.”

Photo © Josh Keyes

Photo © Josh Keyes

Scorch II

Born in Tacoma, Wash., Keyes received his BFA in 1992 from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA in 1998 from Yale University. The animals he paints are often those native to his birthplace.

Photo © Josh Keyes

Photo © Josh Keyes

The Exchange

Many of Keyes’ works depict water in a diorama-like enclosure, which evokes both captivity and rising tides in the wake of global warming. A fear of drowning often permeates the scene.

 

Photo © Josh Keyes

Photo © Josh Keyes

Sirens

In some of Keyes’ paintings, nature seems to be thriving despite the degraded environment. The absence of people in his paintings can have an ominous tone, as if other species have outlasted the one that wreaked havoc on their habitat.

Photo © Josh Keyes

Photo © Josh Keyes

Transplant

“The iconic images express the absurd side of humanity, or what appears to be left of it, and also a deep concern for the natural environment,” Keyes writes on his site.

ANP_entangle3.jpg.0x545_q100_crop-scale

Photo © Josh Keyes

Entangle III

Learn more about Josh Keyes’ work here.

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