New York City Based artist, Martin Wittfooth, explores the connection between humans and animals in his newest exhibition “Domestic Katabasis.” His solo exhibition includes 19 colorful oil paintings on canvas, linen, and wood panels. Martin’s paintings have many layers to them, just as they have many messages within them. The overall theme aims to show the effects of human domination over what is considered to be the natural world. Martin chose to include domesticated animals in his work in order to represent human desires and how they are tamed by societal norms.
Martin’s paintings are not only impressively detailed, but they are also distinctly haunting. One particularly haunting oil painting is ‘By Design – Tiger.’ Martin mixes human features with cat features, which results in an oil painting that has an incredibly eerie and strange vibe. The cat is cute, fat, and fluffy, but the eyes are so human-like. By adding giant blue eyes to the adorable cat body, the painting becomes more expressive. The eyes are pointing in different directions and are clearly filled with worry. Not only does this painting evoke so many mixed emotions, but it also may represent the way in which people treat their pets. Domesticated animals are trained and therefore they are results of human intervention and domination. By mixing human elements with the cat body, the painting is able to convey the idea that people project so many of their ideas onto their pets that the pets become less animal and more human.
While ‘By Design – Tiger’ is a mix of adorable and creepy, Martin’s other paintings in this exhibition evoke other feelings such as pain, fear, and aggression. One can see more of Martin’s solo-exhibition at the Corey Helford Gallery in Los Angeles, where his work will be up for viewing from October 20 to November 24.