Art and Death by Chris Townsend

“Death has in common with birth that it is an event that cannot belong to us, but rather only to those around us”

On Francis Bacons self-portraits – “the photography is fundamental to Bacon’s oeuvre… its significance lies in the absence of that image”

Image result for francis bacon self portrait

Personally, I have been avoiding photographs of certain people because it hurts to look at them. I think I need to be brave and start using photographs to meditate on what has been lost, but also to focus on the memory that has been captured. It is those feelings that I need to draw from when painting.

I struggle with the works of Hirst but I think the book explains it as shock tactics mixed with an inability to be anything but literal. To me, it has always seemed like ego, although he is attempting to show “is Death as itself (whether in the form of cows’ heads, sheeps heads, whole cows, whole sharks, butterflies.) ” in his very literal interpretation. This is something that has felt like it is exploiting a natural process for profit or gain, which I want to avoid. Which is why I wish to approach the subject of death and grief in a more abstract, expressive manner, which will provoke a response from a viewer that might aid their understanding of death and grief, as well as aiding my own emotional recovery.

Image result for hirst death

Perhaps, I need to consider research into death as a step towards understanding grief and mortality, which is what I am really focusing on. I can not understand death any more than philosophy has been attempting to understand it since conscience thought. I can not own my own death according to Townsend either but I can find my own peace in understanding the position of what happens when we are forced to deal with death around us.

My second thought is that I also focus on nature and take inspiration from the ever changing state of the natural areas of my surroundings. As this change plays into mortality and the hope of regeneration I can see how I can positively link the two key themes of death and nature.


Published by

Jessy Plant

A Brighton born artist, now studying a Fine Art Degree at Cardiff Met Uni.

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