Anthony Goicolea: Pathetic Fallacy
Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
Anthony Goicolea is a Cuban-American artist, who received his BFA in painting, photography, and sculpture from the University of Georgia, and his MFA from Pratt. The drawings that are part of the Pathetic Fallacy collection create an uncomfortable tension between the human and animal, and question just how close animals and people are. Goicolea does not shy from the visceral natures of sex, birth, and consumption: these primal necessities are, after all, shared between humans and animals.
The title suggests treatment of the nonhuman as human, by humans, and the assignment of humanity to nonhuman animals gives us the tension visible in the drawings. One of the biggest moral dilemmas that arises when we discuss eating, breeding, and keeping animals is, to what degree do we see animals as having the same feelings, thoughts, and sensations as we do? If not directly addressed in this body of work, the question certainly comes to mind upon viewing: to what degree are the actions of humans and animals portrayed in this series possible, natural, questionable, or inhumane? To what degree are the animals human, and the humans animal?
In the artist’s statement:
Pathetic Fallacy is a collection of graphite drawings on layered mylar and large scale digitally composited photographs. The term “pathetic fallacy,” coined by John Ruskin in Modern Painters (1856), describes the treatment of inanimate objects and places as if they had human feelings, thoughts or sensations.
In this new group of photographs and drawings, nature takes on anthropomorphic characteristics. A new, uneasy equilibrium is created as human and animal bodies merge, trees grow hair and pump blood, flies multiply into tornadoes and wild dogs settle in the ruins of an abandoned home. Anthony Goicolea’s version of pathetic fallacy becomes an atmospheric elegy of passing time, transition, loss and decay. In a new hybridized world of man and nature, nothing is permanent and nothing is safe. Humans, plants and animals have cross-pollinated; they have merged, evolved and adopted different features from each other. Objects acquire pathos and empathy while the decomposition of material things reflects the world in flux.
Oftentimes we celebrate life with beautified images, but Goicolea portrays life as a riot of organic forms, each grasping for light and air with an almost violent greed. Nature is economical in the structures it uses: vascular forms repeat in bundles of nerves, blood vessels and rivers when seen from above. in his drawings Goicolea superimposes these forms, transitioning from one to the other in a seamless manner that casts an unflinching eye on anatomy.
Goicolea practices a nominal realism in his photography, but each scene gathers far-flung elements that generate subtle cognitive dissonances. As signs, these images generate a primary emotion, often sadness, loneliness or a sense of a lost past, but underneath them is a geographic surrealism, a nagging impression that these places do not really exist. Or that they exist in many places, though perhaps only in the imagination.
The rest of the pieces in the Patheric Fallacy exhibition can be found on the artist’s website.