The large canvas “Occupy” visualizes the recent Wall Street protests. Whittfooth says, “I wanted to play off of the idea of the symbol of Wall Street, the bull perched up on a girder,” says Martin, “being swarmed by songbirds, who have no perceived effect whatsoever on his position, despite the great deal of noise we can imagine them collectively creating.”
I’m not normally bowled over by paintings, or for that matter many things that are considered “art.” But the technical skill of these paintings is reminiscent of the old Dutch masters and Northern Renaissance Italians. Wittfooth is not shy or coy about the intentions his paintings are trying to convey. And what a magnificent use of allegory and metaphor. These paintings hit a nerve in us precisely because their apocalyptic visions herald a Post-Empire reality. There is always fire and conflict just out of the frame or bursting from an animals head. And the animals themselves are what exactly– stand ins for ourselves, or allegorical stories of humans run amuck and forever altering the shape and environment.
“The beautiful canvases reveal the dreams of dominion, feral spirits occupying an empire of the past, present and future. A white polar bear stands vigilant over foreign poppy fields, a crashed chopper beyond in “Harvest.” A white she-wolf nurses primates as Romulus and Remus in burning ruins in ”Capitoline.” Martin describes his work as “classically-inspired but contemporarily-filtered allegorical realism. The behaviors of modern empires parallel those of history, and the dynamics of power and hierarchy that have always characterized them.” The past becomes a painterly vision of a global psyche, lucid in theme, vibrant with tonality and color.”
And these are large paintings; he sought to try and portray the real size of each animal and the landscape they inhabit “to create an immersive effect in the viewer.” I suspect that this work of a relatively young artist is going to be remembered as visionary and prescient images of our coming future.