As someone who enjoys and studies art history it’s always nice to see someone wearing a fine art shirt that isn’t Hokusai’s “The Great Wave off Kanagawa, Van Gogh’s “Starry Night”, De Vinci’s “Mona Lisa”, or Margritte’s “The Son of Man”. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of these works, but among the initiated: basic is basic. The idea of “basic” is an interesting one; you can be edgy in the mainstream or too mainstream within the margins.
This image, which we’ll call an image because it’s not the companies’ original work and therefore shouldn’t be called a design, is not mainstream; but within the annals of classical art is in no way obscure. Seeing the image raises questions about balancing one’s representation of niche and mainstream interests, while presenting one’s identity to society at large. There seems to be a spectrum: the mainstream, the obscure but inoffensive, and the obscure and offensive. The middle is known and permitted; the left is unknown, but accepted, and the right would be unknown and unacceptable. On a one to ten this image might be a three or four. The wearer would get credit among the art aficionados, without alienating those not in “the know”. If you wanted to move more towards the one space, the left side of the scale Hendrick Goltzius might be your man. To move towards the right, maybe John Heartfield, or Takato Yamamoto.
In any case it’s nice to see Durrer represented. Past that it’s nice to see this image that feels like more of an acknowledgement of the late master’s skill, rather than some of his more ‘death themed’ block prints which are simply appreciated today because of the trendiness of their imagery. Durrer, and print artists in general, really haven’t gotten there due within mainstream culture, and perhaps the art world at large. Maybe, wear the shirt, support the cause; or wear it because it is and always was a beautiful design.
Rabbits as a symbol haven’t really gotten their due in recent years. Owls had their time in the mid oughts, lions and wolves seem to be in ascendance, but it’s been a long time since “Watership Down” and Peter Rabbit were made or were culturally relevant. In spite of the fact that the color pallet is of the moment, this design seems to be like a bit of a throwback to the times in which the topic of animal testing got the same, if not more coverage than that of global warming. Everything is plastics and carbon now. It’s weird to age and wonder how, why, and when societal priorities shifted.
The image is interesting in that the colors seem Aposematic (warning colors); There’s something sickly and yet violent about the combination. The pink is vibrant and lively, as if expressing joy in the clinical and dangerous nature that this particular hue of green would seem to represent. Coupled with the sharp edges of the geometry, the running zoetropic progression of the rabbits, there’s something sinister about this design that makes it interesting.
In the same way the embroidery tattoo trend of a couple of years back caught peoples attention this image’s idiosyncratic use, or illusion of material on an unsuited canvas is captivating. There’s always the question of how and why certain animals are anthropomorphized in the way that they are; A fox, perhaps because of the similarity in hues to that of autumn leaves would seem to be the obvious choice for this composition. Is the grey mold, should we take the shapes to be comprised of a man made material merely mirroring nature. The dead eyes and whiskers might suggest that. The eye’s realistically aren’t merely dead, they aren’t blended and don’t interact with the form. The eyes almost feel like Pareidolia made evident. It’s as if the artist saw it and is here sharing the experience. Nothing this perfect it likely to be found and that’s without the unnatural coloring that takes sometime to actually appreciate. The image is an assemblage of leaves, but there aren’t bits and scraps lying around a digital space. The intrusion of the unnatural elements (the eyes and whiskers) might then suggest that we neither see or appreciate icons, archetypes, symbols, within nature. It is only through the reshuffling and manipulation, through the re-contextualization of our devices that we can see, and fail to recognize meaning in our environment.