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The illustration shows the Ark – with Noah – stranded on a mountain top in the distance, just after the Flood obviously. A group of animals composed of horses, giraffes and elephants are running in our direction, as if they wanted to get out of the image. In the way it was told to us when we were children, the story already sounded quite tragic to me. But the morale of the story which involved banishing sin from the earth escaped me completely. What worried me was that all the human beings were going to drown. But fortunately, Noah had been chosen to stay there and save the animals. He built a boat to save them all. However, there was a problem – the boat – how could it contain so many animals? Besides, there was a male and a female of each species, so they could breed. It was very difficult for me to understand how everyone could get in this tiny boat. But after all, it was a tale to me.
When I started to paint years later, I naturally began to work around the four elements being at the origin of the world and of life. I had a preference for water – huge threatening waves. The contrasts between storms and quietness, warm and cold colors appeared in my paintings.
I remembered those elephants in particular. There were so large and seemed so happy as they ran in our direction. Little by little, this naïve image was replaced by reality and elephants regularly appeared in my work under a far less idyllic aspect. It was mainly about bringing endangered species to light. Elephants with or without their tusks. It is up to human beings to determine their fate. The trophies painted are obviously ironical.
The polar bear and the gorilla are among the numerous animals which are not depicted on the cover of my childhood book. They represent extremes in many ways – north and south, cold and heat. Just like the elephant, they have been a recurrent theme in my work.
Here they have a new chance to run and escape the huge wave which may submerge others.
Each viewer may wonder, interpret or think about what comes next…
I chose to stop there. As for Noah…
Noah's Park
acrylics on canvas, 110 x 110 cm, 2016
The starting point is an illustration on the cover of Mitt Skattkammer n°5 – a collection of tales – published by Teknisk Forlag, Oslo, 1956 – Noah’s Ark by Gösta Geerd.
see drawings Noah's Ark
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Oddbjørg REINTON
visual artist
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