By Robert Bateman
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Additional info for Bateman: New Works
I couldn’t resist the two domestic scenes with family dogs. It is sad but true, though, that domestic animals in the Western world often have better living conditions than millions of humans in the developing world. indd 48 10/06/02 3:18 PM o riental art has always touched my soul. Many of my paintings and drawings were inspired, at least in part, by the art and calligraphy of Japan. This influence is evident in paintings like Black-crowned Night Heron Pair, which also contains echoes of James McNeill Whistler, and Serengeti Dusk—White Storks.
We need to move in that direction again. Old farmhouses and barns, stone fences, a lone windmill—these are reminders of a time when human activities had a gentler effect on the environment. Old Buggy and Winter Birds shows a buggy parked in front of a drive shed, while cardinals, juncos, and song sparrows feed on grain strewn over the ground. The gloomy black rectangle of the drive shed reminded me of the empty dark spaces in some of Mark Rothko’s abstracts. By contrast, Growth—Nairobi offers a grim view of the future, showing how unbridled growth gives way to disaster.
The pot is by Wayne Ngan, one of Canada’s foremost potters. Although Wayne is of Chinese descent, his work shows a strong Japanese influence. The wild rose hips and snowberries are from our laneway. Vermeer was present in my psyche while I did this piece. The light comes from the window. My challenge was to show the crinkles in the scroll in that oblique light. I recalled Vermeer’s The Art of Painting with its crinkled map on the wall. indd 59 10/06/02 3:20 PM P redators and prey have always fascinated people, perhaps because of our ancestry as hunter-gatherers.