Sunday, 16 September 2007

The French Cyclists

Shots in the Temple of the USA

One day a couple stopped in front of my house. They were both on bicycles, which were packed to the hilt with camping gear and food. They spoke English with a French accent and asked for directions to the nearest caravan park. As it was about dark and too far to ride to the closest caravan park, I invited them to camp in my back yard.

That evening we invited them into the house and got to know them. They were husband and wife who were traveling around Australia. They owned a printing business in Paris, and spent most of their leisure time riding in various parts of the world. They were a very fit and attractive couple who were both around sixty years of age.

He noticed my paintings on the wall and asked to see more works. We went down to my studio and I showed him some of my drawings. When we got to the above drawing he remarked how much he liked it. I told him that it was a criticism of the war in Iraq and the media's one sided coverage.

He pulled from his pocket a clipping from the Australian newspaper. It was an article by Phillip Adams covering the same topics. Our French visitor had become a Phillip Adams fan and was collecting his articles as he traveled. This is their website here.

A few months later I was in the Queensland Museum in the insects and animal room after checking out the StarTrek Exhibition. A man in black came to the service counter while I was looking at the bottled snakes. He made a joke to the staff about the cane toads on display. I turned to look at his face, because I recognized the voice. Our eyes met for a minute as I realized it was Phillip Adams, and then I moved on in silence.

The man in the picture above is a journalist, he has stars on his outfit and stands in front of sea of stripes. Behind him are flames and a black void. Above him is a plan view of a Jewish Temple, the smaller black void is the Holy of Holies. The artwork questions the relationship between politics, religion and the media. The photographer points his camera out at the viewer, indicating that through the media we have not escaped being impacted by world events and opinions.

Art is an extraordinary medium that can focus on many different subjects. It is not partial and covers most human experiences. Art is produced by many people from many walks of life. History demonstrates that art is not limited to one particular creed or way of life. No one owns art, or has a monopoly on it's meaning and production, because it's free.

The Third of May 1808: The Execution of the Defenders of Madrid
By Francisco Goya

The depiction of the shooting of innocent citizens by Napoleons troops
after an uprising in Madrid.

The Ghent Altarpiece: Adoration of the Lamb
by Jan van Eyck

Representatives of different people of the world before the Lamb of God.

Sitzender Weiblicher Akt, 1914
by Egon Schiele

A stark and semi-erotic drawing by a master draughtsman.


  1. You sure have a lot of good stories

  2. The war in Iraq for starters is not a war at all (not yet anyway, though it may become a civil war). The action taken in Iraq by Australia is an invasion, driven by a Christian capitalist ideology which views Islam as an evil force and is therefore deserving of invasion and the looting of it's oil reserves. There are no weapons of mass destruction(as we have) and Bin Laden had no support in Iraq(though he does now).
    Rich Saudi's are funding Bin Laden and France has weapons of mass destruction, should we also invade them or are they too rich and/or Christian?


    Religion drives people to a point of accepting irrational thought process' where they are prepared to do anything in it's name. I'm not anti God(there is no evidence to be anti about) but I am anti people who's arrogance is such that there understanding of the world allows them to dismiss all else for the sake of their own thought process'.
    Then act on this delusion by flying planes into buildings or dropping bombs on cities.

    Many people can see this problem and unfortunately many can't, those who can sometimes turn to art as a means of filling the gap. I don't really know why this is so but it appears to me that art is a modern day substitute for religion. I guess it is an outlet for the dogmatic and fanatical amongst us.

    My mother gave me a piece of advice when I was a teenager and I've tried to notice of that advice, because it made sense to me; there is a story with it. My Brother Chris and I when teenagers attended a Christian youth group primarily to hang out with the girls, we went very often; there were many nice girls. My mother took us aside one time and told us "it's OK to be religious boys, but some people become fanatical, you don't want to become fanatical." clearly there was a misunderstanding here and there still is but the principle if the statement is sound "fanatics are to be feared"

    And because this is an art blog so are some Artists

  3. By the standard and commonly accepted definition of war, the invasion of Iraq by coalition forces is a war. Any search on the subject on the internet or newspapers describes the Iraq invasion as a war.

    Wikipedia - "War is a prolonged state of violent, large-scale conflict involving two or more groups of people".

    Stanford Encylopedia - "War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political communities. Thus, fisticuffs between individual persons do not count as a war, nor does a gang fight, nor does a feud on the order of the Hatfields versus the McCoys. War is a phenomenon which occurs only between political communities, defined as those entities which either are states or intend to become states (in order to allow for civil war). Classical war is international war, a war between different states, like the two World Wars. But just as frequent is war within a state between rival groups or communities, like the American Civil War. Certain political pressure groups, like terrorist organizations, might also be considered “political communities,” in that they are associations of people with a political purpose and, indeed, many of them aspire to statehood or to influence the development of statehood in certain lands."

    It is now obvious to most that the invasion of Iraq, the war in Iraq, is clearly wrong and motivated by misguided and even evil, political leaders. In history both communism and capitalism have produced great evil in their extremes.

    The simple and vast generalization
    about religion and war demonstrates a lack of knowledge in this area.
    Normal Christianity does not teach war. Political tyrants might profess to be Christians but are not following Christ. The New Testament teaches about, "turning the other cheek" and "dying to oneself" or "doing unto others as you would have them do to you".
    Those who profess to believe something maybe professing for various reasons with dubious motives.

    Atheism, Politics, Evolution, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc. are all belief systems. War is driven not just by ideology alone but the condition of mens hearts.

    If you can't find evidence for God then no one can force you. But maybe you should broaden your reading, as there are some excellent scientists who believe in God and publish proper peer reviewed science publications. Atheism itself seems to be a distorted belief about God anyway.

    There are many rational arguments for supporting a belief in God. But virtually nothing to support a belief in Evolution.

    It's not fanatical to know what and why you believe. It's important to move beyond some of the simple beliefs that you acquired when you were young unless they are sound.

    Fanaticism is also found in those who doggedly believe in something regardless of the evidence.

    It is a popular belief that religion leads to war but my contention is that the problem is much more serious than that. War is an outgrowth of mens inner condition, one of separation from God. This rebellious state causes men to form ideologies and religions devoid of truth as a form of war against each other and God.

    Art can be like a religion for some, as it seems to authenticate there reason for being. But art really is a gift from God. It demonstrates that we are made in His Image, the creator.

    One should not try to separate art from life or art from belief, as they are inseparable. One traveling down this road would eventually unravel themselves to nothing.

    Art is about something, it's not just a clanging noise or a blob of paint. Even blobs of paint and a clanging noise demonstrate a presupposition, although faintly.

  4. The powers that be(eg bush Bin Laden) use religions as a tool to keep the people under their control to do their bidding. It has been this way for a long time and I suspect that the whole belief idea came about for this purpose.

    There two types of people, those who believe what they are told and those who seek to understand.

  5. wow youse - anyone wanna buy some cruise missiles?

    I think oil and religion can be considered as a type of venn diagram - Mostly they are separate issues but in some critical areas they intersect. The coalition's attempt to westernise Iraq is the first (phase) oil war and Iran will be an extension of it. The whole conflict is driven by an addiction to fossil fuels. It is not wrong, there is no right or wrong about it - it's an inevitable phase in the time-line of man's sojourn on earth. A virus that destroys it's host and then expires itself is not wrong; thats just what it does.
    (And the North Koreans are a bunch of paranoid whackers and are only a worry because they would swap nukes or their mothers for OIL with anyone at all if they got half a chance).

    The clash of religious ideologies is a phenomenon that had been around since Cain and Abel wore shorts - it is the background white-noise(um) of global conflict.
    There is none who feels so in tune with their God than a suicide bomber on his way to paradise.

    Imagining that the version of the book that you happen to have grown into via cultural heritage or as a result of effective crusading is the only right one and followers of other paths cop eternal damnation IS conflict and its just a jump to the right (dadl dadl dadl dah) before you start seeing others as a waste of space and set about helping them on their way. And there's more than one mob that have made that jump to the extreme.

    Fanatical comes before extreme. A person that adheres to a particular code to the exclusion of all others and despite evidence to the contrary is a fanatic. Historically, the church qualifies for the "silencing of Gallileo syndrome".
    When they finally admit that the earth isn't the centre of the universe it allows the possibility that man may not be the centre of creation, so there has to be a bit of finger-in-the-dike leak plugging to hold things together.
    Some religions are even allowing that the earth/universe may actually be older than 7,500 years and that Adam might just be allegorical rather than actual, which either changes the status quo or requires a few more fingers in the dike. Those with fingers in the dike are fanatics.

    Oil is different, oil is about this realm; turn it off and civilisation goes fish-belly-up within a week - we currently burn 300 years worth of accumulated fossil fuel every day! Now thats an addiction worth robbing for.

    Art is an expression of your state of being - philosophical, psychological, religious conviction - whatever. I find it hard to resist the urge to paint pictures that have profoundly deep-flat-black centres with a bit of colour around the edge but you can only find so many people who will swap them for oil, so I'm trying to do coloured centres.
    Art is not religion or polotics - it is a means of communicating things about yourself that are more fundamental than either of those. Art does this regardless of your intent. It reveals just like liar averts their eyes or a false smile doesn't crease the around the eyes. There's nothing you can do about it. My coloured centres, for instance, keep turning grey and all I can do is watch.
    The next painting may foil it though. I've started by painting it all red - no centre at all. yahahah!

  6. I think you should give away the painting (or just keep it as a hobby) and take up writing seriously.
    I really think it would be a good idea, Roger. Not that you're a bad painter it's just that you put words together so well and I'm not just pissing in your pocket when I say that.

    Do you want to write some lyrics?

  7. I am writing a fair bit but its hard to see where its going. Got about 7000 words in the last month or so. I'll write lyrics - what you want writ?

  8. here is my idea

    Take a song with regular length lyrics.
    write new lyrics for it.
    Send me the lyrics but don't tell me what the original song was.
    Then I'll try and put it to music.

  9. right oh, I'll give it some thought...
    thanks for the feedback too

  10. Philip Adams, Star Trek ! I'm beginning to despair, David.Is there no hope for you?

  11. roj,
    It is patently obvious that there is a lot of dike plugging in the other camp. Those who claim no bias are deluding themselves. It all depends which bias has the most reasonable support. Thats up to each individual person to decide. Unfortunately, sometimes science, politics or religion want to decide this for you. Absolute truth is above mere man made systems. In fact those systems have no right to it. Take a look at evolution and it's relationship to racism, and the development of the Arayan dictatorship of Hitler. Take a look at irreducible complexity, or symbiotic relationships. The fossil record makes more sense as a product of cataclysm than uniform ism. What is the mechanism that drives evolution? Where does the extra information come from in the DNA to produce the next limb, when information can be shown to be the product of intelligence not chance? How can transitional animals survive and why aren't there any fossil records of there existence?
    Evolution has so many holes there ain't nothing to plug.

  12. Absolutely David, my observation wasn't intended to exclude either camp from dike plugging but I can see it read one-sided. There are fanatics on all sides; I, for one am fanatically skeptical. I don't really believe anything unless you can measure it with a stick and even then the stick is a bit dodgy.

    I like that nude of egon's - and a lot of his other stuff. It's hard to draw like that though - the semi-erotic thing, it seems to upset people. They straight away label you as some kind of deviate. I think its really odd how you can see heaped burnt bodies every evening on the news but you cant see a naked human unless you hang out till really late on SBS. Why is that?

  13. Yo, you really are Blogers. Art, Religion, War, Sex, discussed in a collage of interpreted words and images. I see a correlation between the images of war,the naked woman and life with past and present. That countries, men and women have all been violated.


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