June 22, 2018

Yerkaland

        Jacek Yerka (Poland, b. 1952) is an artist who paints all kinds of cool fantasy/sci fi landscapes and creatures.  With a strong vibe of René Magritte, many of his landscapes include surreal elements of transformation, dislocation, reversal, and juxtaposition.  Some seem to include commentary on modern life, though many also seem to be simply imagination at play.
        This brontosaurus is clearly related to my aspidochelone, and all the other island creatures.  It’s a very unusual species of brontosaurus to have flippers instead of legs, but making it a dinosaur definitely adds a fun twist.  I like the lighthouse on the creature's head.  I had considered that it made sense to put a lighthouse on my aspidochelone’s head, but it didn’t look as good, so I put it on the front of the shell, but
certainly a head so very far away from the mainland should definitely have its own lighthouse.  Interesting details include the arches down the dinosaur’s tail, and all the little windows in the world of the ocean floor.
        Yerka works primarily in acrylic and pastel, but this pencil drawing works particularly well, evoking the sketches of a mad inventor.  It may be invented and constructed, but it nevertheless seems to be
alive.  This is a common theme with many of Yerka’s creatures: they are hybrids of biological elements and retro machinery.  This one seems to create a sort of musical dust.  A nice touch is that the tracks of the treads are staves, upon which the falling notes write music.
        I imagine that the crocodilian-car creature might almost be a sort of tsukumogami, since the car looks so old and abandoned.  Perhaps old cars left long enough grow legs and tails and become animate.  This particular creature must be a favorite of Yerka, since a very similar one appears in another painting, too.
        And finally, another wonderful town placed in a fantastical location.  Is that lava over which the city clings, or striated rock, or something else altogether: winding skeins of thought or imagination, perhaps.  The markers along the edge of the cliff imply that the cobbled land between sea and cliff’s edge makes a road to and from somewhere else, so the inhabitants are not as wholly isolated as they at first appear.
        Yerka’s images are definitely an encouragement to imagination.  Where is this?  What’s happening here?  What might happen next?  Who, what, when, where, why?  What if…?

[Pictures: Brontosaurus Civitas, painting by Jacek Yerka, 2014(?);
Self-propelled Boulevard Composer, pencil drawing by Yerka, 2007;
Stone and Brick, painting by Yerka, 2005;
Ultima Thule, painting by Yerka, 2008 (All images from Yerkaland.com).]

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