Portland-based artist Josh Keyes (Hi-Fructose Collected Edition 3 cover artist) has always demonstrated a keen empathy for animals in his work. Where in his older paintings, majestic animals such as circus elephants seemed trapped in their captive surroundings, in his latest series the artist frees his wild protagonists. Great beasts like wolves and elks seem happily at peace in nature, their bodies fusing with the land and the flora to visualize the interconnectedness of all beings.
Keyes is currently showing with Neil M. Perry at Antler Gallery in Portland in a two-person show titled “Entwined.” The title echoes the interrelated components of an ecosystem, as well as some of the stylistic elements of the work. Perry’s vision of nature stands out from Keyes’s with its candy-hued color palette and design-oriented compositions. Snakes wrap around the characters, creating a sense of entrapment and danger. The wild colors of the works are no accident: Perry says that he chose them based on color psychology. The meanings of each color combined with the anthropomorphic traits attributed to each animal in different cultures’ mythologies creates a constellation of associations that Perry envisions as a metaphor for human relationships.
“Entwined” is on view at Antler Gallery through May 27.