Fish in Troubled Waters

James Keul's avatar James Keul Vote Code: 53280
  • Image description

This piece is an investigation of the human condition, a combination of visual and symbolic representations that evoke a sense of confinement and powerlessness, manifested in an undefined space where the laws of nature are plastic and shifting. The figures are submerged and contained as if in a fish tank, where, as in a dream, they walk along the ground unaffected by their fluid surroundings. The water level drops like sand in an hour glass indicating that their time is limited. Their slowly-evaporating environment, along with the smoke in the distance, represents the compounding nature of external influences which, it sometimes seems, we have little control over. The self-supporting frame, complete with a bench, while on the one hand containing the figures, serves to remind the viewer that though we are resilient creatures we must occasionally sit down, take a break, and contemplate the best way to get where we want to be, physically, mentally, or spiritually.

Entry Details
  • Art form: 2-D
  • Depth: 1
  • Medium: Oil on Canvas
  • Width: 9
  • Year created: 2012
  • Height: 8

Venue & Connection Information

This painting is paired with a self-standing frame, handmade by the artist out of cherry and walnut woods. As a result, the painting can be displayed either against a wall (though not hanging on it) or in the center of a room as an installation. If the work is displayed in the center of a room, it should be noted that only the front is painted. The back is finished with birch plywood, which covers the back of the canvas, creating a clean-looking wall. Additional paintings are available, which could be hung on the back if more artwork is preferred over the blank wall. In the spirit of full disclosure, it should be mentioned that in the entry photo above, the painting was photographed independently from its frame and added later in photoshop. This is because I made the painting in my studio in New York and the frame in North Carolina, where it is still located. They will only be reunited in August, prior to being transported to Grand Rapids in September.

Venue Considerations
  • Special Lighting needed: Yes
  • Internet needed: No
  • Indoor Space needed: Yes
  • Outdoor Space needed: No
  • Audio/Video needed: No
  • Electrical needed: No

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