‘Rainforest Fire’ is Josh Hollingshead’s artistic response to the complex reality of commercially driven deforestation in developing countries.
Dimensions: 1.8m x 1.8m.
The painting is set in a world where conflagration, a vast and destructive fire, is a method by which life can be sustained. Farmers face the choice of burning areas of forest to access resources (such as charcoal), or leaving the forest alone and risking the failure of their crops and starvation throughout their country. Economically, then, conflagration benefits the populous of the world of ‘Rainforest Fire’.
Yet it is not only the economic drive of the fire that Hollingshead’s work shows, but the physical and emotional disruption that it causes. Two soldiers sit resigned in the knowledge that they cannot stop the fire. Another man, the farmer or charcoal vendor who started the flames, raises his arms in despair at the destruction before him and the sight of human figure burning with the trees. On the horizon, villagers run to beat back the fire that is near to consuming their homes. Rare flora, fauna, and animals are shown in peril as the flames rise – lemurs, a tenrec, rosewood trees, and epiphytic plants.
Still, men haul charcoal from the scene, and the painting shows that often this cannot be stopped.
‘Rainforest Fire’ reminds us that deforestation is viewed by many as a key step in the economic development of poorer nations. It invites us to sympathise with this perspective, so that more varied and sustainable solutions can be found for deforestation.
Original oil on canvas.
Dimensions: 1.83m x 1.83m.
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More work by this artist is on display in the gallery.