Artist website – https://jacksonthilenius.wordpress.com/
Jackson Thilenius is an artist and architect who has explored a range of topics in his work including still lifes and portraits. I am mostly interested in his works involving the meat industry which show the suffering that animals go through. Although I am not exploring the meat industry specifically in my work and my work isn’t as brutal or serious, I feel that looking at the way he has depicted farm animals could influence me to try to make my work more serious to see the outcome and then if it doesn’t go to plan, at least I can say I tried.
This is a zoomed-in painting of a cow’s eye which shows cows being slaughtered in its reflection. This is quite a distressing and sad image which shows that not only are animals subjected to immense violence and brutality, they also have to witness members of their family or herd being killed before them. The title ‘next’ implies that the cow who is the main subject of the painting is going to be slaughtered next and it creates a sense of impending doom with no way for the cow to escape. This is definitely a message about the meat industry and makes the viewer feel a lot of sympathy for the cows. The details of the cow’s fur work really well and the colours are used to contrast with the silhouette of the slaughtered cows in the eye reflections.
This painting shows pigs in their individual compartments in a slaughterhouse. The main pig is making direct eye contact with the viewer which evokes a lot of sympathies as it seems as though the pig is asking for help. This is made worse with the other pig-sticking their nose through the bars as if they are trying to escape but there is no way of escaping. This could also be an idea of how small their individual compartments are. The blood on the bars adds a sense of brutality which again creates sympathy. I feel that my work resonates with this piece as I do paintings of animals looking/staring at the viewer although my work isn’t as violent or brutal as I am trying to be more subtle with my outcomes. However, I feel that it is important to see how the brutal side of the subject could look, most likely making the viewer a lot more uncomfortable than my own work. Also, this painting seems to be an idea about the meat industry and although my work may be interpreted as that, it is not a direct message about the meat industry.
This painting shows a lot of brutality and violence which is a norm in the meat industry. This painting reminds me a lot of the first painting of the cow’s eye and the reflection of other cows being slaughtered. However, this painting is a lot more graphic and shows the harsh reality of the production of meat. Although this is known by a lot of people, the actual depiction of it would make a lot of people very uncomfortable. It creates a lot of sympathy for the pig that has been killed as well as sympathy for the pig that is still alive who was a ‘witness’ to the brutal murder and is going to have the same awful fate as nothing it does will save it. The hooks and wires in the background make this painting a lot more sinister, even though that is what slaughterhouses look like (not that many people are aware of this other than from films).
Reason that I decided to research into Jackson Thilenius’s work:
I feel that the subject of Thilenius’s work links to mine effectively, although a much more violent and brutal story is told while I am trying to be more subtle in my approach. I find it interesting to see how many different parts there are go animal rights – predominantly being the meat industry and animals living conditions before slaughter. My own work is trying to create sympathy for the farm animals using emotion and the animals having a direct eye contact with the viewer – I hope that the animal itself can get the message across with their cuteness rather than doing art which is too violent or shocking. However, I feel that seeing other people’s approaches to the subject is vital in allowing me to develop my own work.
Thilenius’s work is very realistic and mine is more abstract but I like the smooth appearance of his paintings and the way that the pigs make eye contact with the viewer. A key theme in his work is a sense of impending doom with animals being aware of the violence that their herd or family have been subjected to and the sad sense that there is no escape for them. Their main purpose is meat despite that they are living animals who deserve more than that.