2004/10/05

Modern art 40: ARTSENSE 015


Acryl015. The snake.

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The slide-show of all the acrylics of my ARTSENSE serie has been installed, if interested click
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"The snake" is a follow up of "Hot summer landscape". It's the vision of a nearby, very close "scape" on a rapid, with a snake, in the mountains of Yanching 100 miles west of Beijing.This painting is a vision from my memory of an unforgetable moment. I was jumping from stone to stone down a rapid when suddenly I saw a snake crawling in parallel at a distance of 2-3 meters. Suffice to say that my jumping had instantly been frozen. I was there trying to keep my balance in the middle of the roaring water, the snake had mimicked my freezing and was staring at me. What to do?

"The snake" is my vision of that particular moment, me and the snake frozen and staring at each other. I did not panic, I was not afraid, I was frozen trying to detect what were the intentions of the snake and I had a crystal clear sense that the snake also was not afraid, only waiting to see what would be my intentions. How long a time this starring at each other took, I don't know, I never wear a watch, but I remember the feeling that it was not a very short time. The snake was head-high pointed in my direction, her eyes in mine. She was projecting peace, power, beauty and harmony. I did not detect any aggressivity, only power and also a kind of pharaonic beauty. In my mind I had a clear certainty that if I made only a slight movement in her direction, I would be injected her venom.

Frozen, at a very slow pace I succeeded to drag one foot towards a stone on my back and amazingly, at the same pace as mine the snake retreated. We both continued our synchronized and slow retreat always facing each other without an instant ralaxing our staring at each other and when we were at a distance of 8-10 meters, we both turned our backs and left the scene.

Aggressivity is not pervasing in nature. It is a reaction of protection of one's territory and of one's family. And attacks by one specy on another are limited to food collection. Animals don't kill for the pleasure, they strictly limit their killing to their needs for food or to the need for their protection. Only humans kill for other reasons than food collection and protection. It should thus come as no surprise that animals are weary of human actions. I have this gut feeling that animals are able to sense our intentions and are thus capable to preempt them by biting us in self-defense. I experienced this feeling with the snake but I had already experienced it many times earlier with dogs. If you have no intentions to harm them and if you are not afraid, they will not be afraid and they will not harm you. I experienced the same in reverse once in the Dallas zoo. A great ape in front of his showcase was looking at us and at a given moment he started to drum his chest in front of us. I answered him by drumming my own chest. I never saw faster reaction, the ape was pounding the window with all his might, as if he wanted to kill me. Later I learned that apes drum their chest to show that they are the strongest and answering them by drumming your own chest is like saying, no you are not the strongest, I'am the strongest. I had caused the anger of the monkey and had he bitten me, I would have been responsible of ignorance.

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