This piece is one of a series which explore the destructiveness of war and the fragility of individuals who are caught up in warfare. My gas mask pieces connote chemical warfare, the mask obscuring the face so that the individual in the painting becomes symbolic and represents all individuals caught in war. The gasmask, while not designed for ritual purposes, functions as a modern equivalent to traditional masks and elicits a strong response from modern audiences.
The wilted flowers are a poignant symbol of peace and beauty, they signify remembrance for those who lost their lives, though as they are drooping it suggests that as a society our respect for and memory of these individuals is fading over time. Also, in terms of shape and colour, the flowers hint towards the gas and explosions; the violence of war.
Pale Carnage is influenced by the themes and imagery explored by First World War poets such as Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. The title is more of an abstract poetic reference, from Ezra Pound’s April which he published two years before the outbreak of World War II:
Nympharum membra disjecta
(The limbs of nymphs lie scattered)
Three spirits came to me
And drew me apart
To where the olive boughs
Lay stripped upon the ground:
Pale carnage beneath bright mist.
Oil on Panel
36cm x 40cm