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.