“We question life to seek out some meaning. Yet to preserve all the simple human truths we need mysteries. The mystery of happiness, death, love. [...] My mission is finished. And what next, to return to earth? Little by little, everything will come to normal. I’ll find new interests, new acquaintances. But I won’t be able to devote all of myself to them. And do I have the right to turn down even an imaginary possibility of contact with the ocean, to which my race is trying to stretch a thread of understanding? To stay here, among the things we both touched, which still remember our breathing? What for? Just for the hope of her return? But I have no hope. The only thing left to for me is to wait. Wait, i don’t know, for a new miracle” (Kris Kelvin, Solaris, 1972).
Solaris, one of the greatest sci-fi masterpieces of cinema directed by Andrej Tarkovskij, was released in the USSR in 1973 and it was considered to be the socialist answer to Stanley Kubrick’ s 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was released just one year before the Apollo 11 lunar landing in July 1969. The astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr, became the first humans to walk on the Moon and the very first symbols of the modern quest for truth and understanding. For years, writers, musicians, directors and artists have found their inspiration in the imagery of space travel and their interest in analysing mankind’s uncertain role in the universe grew more and more.
With Solaris, Andrej Tarkovskij heavily explored the unresolvable and hard to touch issue of the nature of human mind, and its inscrutable universe. The meaning of Life, Love, Death and the power of Memory were not the only questions raised by the epic russian director. Or rather, these were only a part of a larger and much more recurring theme: The Isolation of Man in Space (and Earth). In Art, a lot of contemporary painters, illustrators and photographers have been working on it for the past years and still continue to develope new keen and accurate visions/observations. Art pieces by Tomer Hanuka, Fabian Ciraolo, Chow Hon Lam , Victor Ash , Jack Crossing , Enkel Dika , Jeremy Geddes and the humorous photographic series «Astronaut Suicide» by Neil DaCosta are but a few examples.
Jeremy Geddes – The White Cosmonaut, Oil on Board 2009
Victor Ash – Astronaut / Cosmonaut, Berlin 2007
Jack Crossing – 6th Avenue
Fab Ciraolo – Mom, I want to be an astronaut (2011)
Hence, one artist specially captures our attention, Scott Listfield, known for his paintings featuring one lonely astronaut exploring the vast desert planet earth.
Scott Listfield – The Iceberg (2007), 40×30 Inches, Oil on Canvas
Scott Listfield – Rock the Casbah (2005), 36×48 Inches, Oil on Canvas
At first glance, Listfield’s oil paintings seem catchy, even funny, and oddly peculiar. But soon afterwards, when looked at quietly, thoroughly and closely, these pieces touch the observer deep in his own subconscious perception of reality. The place where the astronaut sluggishly lives does not belong to him, not at all. Simultaneously exposed to contemporary icons of western consumerism and sealed off, everyday he looks at the same things, feels the same things and nothing ever really changes. He gets lost, like us. Silently living a solitary life, dispirited, feeling abandoned, passing through the paths of non-places. In «Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity (1995)», French anthropologist Marc Augé coined the phrase “non-place” to suggest specific spaces of transit, where everything proceeds as if space had been trapped by time, as if there were no history other than the last 48 hours of news, as if each individual history were drawing its motive, its words and images, from the inexhaustible stock of an unending history in the present. Examples of non-places would be motorways, airport lounges, shopping malls and hotel rooms. That’s exactly what we see, and perceive, in Listfield’s paintings.
Scott Listfield – The Mall (2006), 36×48 Inches, Oil on Canvas
Scott Listfield – At the Gallery (2009), 30×40 Inches, Oil on Canvas
Scott Listfield – Bear Right for Hoth (2007), 36×48 Inches, Oil on canvas
Scott Listfield – At the Laundromat with Bob Fett (2006) 30×40 Inches, Oil on Canvas
These spaces create neither singular identity nor social relations, only a deep and infinite solitude. And suddenly, placelessness, loneliness and the impossibility to leave the capsule Earth produce monsters.
Scott Listfield – The Squid (2006), 36×48 Inches, Oil on Canvas
Scott Listfield is invited to exhibit his works at Paul Robeson Galleries. The exhibition, Lift off: Earthlings and the Great Beyond, featuring works by Sarah Bednarek, Leah Beeferman, Robbie Conal, Angie Drakopoulos, McLean Fahnestock, Rebecca Hackemann, Scott Listfield, So Yoon Lym, Kate McQuillen, Lauren Orchowski, Jonathan Pellitteri, Experimental Skeleton, Inc., Jean-Pierre Roy, Adam Ryder, Jeff Schmuki, Christopher Ulivo, and Robert Weingarten, will be on display in the Main Gallery from September 1, 2011 – January 5, 2012.
Now check ignition and may God’s love be with you.