Total Pageviews

Monday, December 1, 2014

Cave Paintings

David Janzen       Cave Paintings       March 2014

This series - pictures of cave entrances - springs from a desire to address meanings that the viewer
might attach to these 'quirks of geology'. Isolating only the openings of caverns, acknowledging various archetypes and well worn cliches, while side-stepping Lascauxesque art historical tropes, leads to a rethinking of the term 'cave painting'. The notion of the cave conjures numerous responses, in the mind's eye: Shelter, protection and warmth are as likely to be considered as (are) danger, mystery, darkness, discomfort or dread. The same location could be both a domicile and a pit of despair. A haven for bats and other nocturnal creatures, a hide-out for fugitives and criminals, a place to wait out inclement weather. From the Bible to James Bond, cave imagery recurs: a universal motif entrenched in popular imagination. Caspar David Friedrich (German 1774-1840) depicted them. Salvator Rosa (Italian 1615-1673) included cavernous terrain in his epic paintings. Ansel Adams (American 1902-1984) photo
documented the Carlsbad Caverns. John Ford's film, The Searchers (1956), features caves and cave-like
dwellings throughout its duration. The current phrase, "man-cave" describes a retreat for the
modern, western, middle class male - a garage or masculine recreation room - where he can unwind,
alone or with other members of his 'tribe'.
Loaded with associations, caves - intriguing holes in the earth - might be considered the "birth cannons
of civilization": places to emerge from or return to.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


Expressways is a working title for a series of digital collages. These collaborative 'mash-ups', based on magazine and online advertisements for automobiles - with the cars removed - came about almost accidentally. The original source was a file folder with blurred jpgs and scans of roadscapes, from which I derived imagery, intermittently, for an ongoing cycle of paintings. The paintings addressed speed, travel, the landscape, as experienced by drivers or passengers, and consumer culture in the automotive age.
Intrigued by the altered photographs, I emailed a number of these 'emptied out' car ads to my friend, Jack Niven, an artist active in New Orleans. Niven digitally filled the rectangular voids in the pictures with.....peas, frog eggs, the Huey P. Long Bridge, lumber - anything that struck him as compelling or absurd. A flurry of enthusiastic correspondence followed, resulting in a project that could be published as 'hard copy'; A mock up of salesroom floor marketing in the style of automotive print advertising.

Here are examples of the 'gutted' pictures before being manipulated:

                                          Here are examples of  J. Niven's alterations: