When I was visiting the Tate Gallery in London I noticed an interesting postcard in the gift shop. I picked it up and my first thought was that the two horses bodies had been photo-shopped onto one another. But no… I turned the card over and found it was a joined painting by artist Mark Wallinger! Here is information from the Tate website about this interesting work of art.
This is one of four paintings depicting hybrid racehorses which Wallinger made in 1994-5. The paintings are all titled Half Brother with individual subtitles, made up of the names of the two horses from which the halves are taken, in parentheses to distinguish them and share a similar structure. Each consists of two abutting canvases bringing together the two halves of the horse. The horses are painted realistically in thin oil against a white ground. Wallinger derived the horses from photographs in the Jockey Club’s official record of thoroughbred stallions. He projected the photographs onto the large canvases and copied them. In each painting, the horse’s forequarters appear on the left panel and its hindquarters on the right. The bodies’ outlines connect only approximately at the point where the canvases join. Different colouring and variation in build between the horses’ halves result in incongruous blends. In Half Brother (Exit to Nowhere – Machiavellian) the horse’s head and shoulders are an ochre-brown, turning to black on its forelegs. The rear half of its body is a uniform rich, glossy black, broken only by a narrow white band above its left hoof. The painting’s title reflects on the significance of pedigree in horse breeding while the subtitle directs the work towards a particular reading. In racing terminology, ‘half brother’ may only be used for animals sharing the same mother. The words ‘Exit to Nowhere’ suggest that the inbreeding typical to pedigree animals (not only horses) may be ultimately unproductive. The appellation ‘Machiavellian’, evoking the Italian political philosopher Nicolo Machiavelli (1469-1527) whose name has become synonymous with deviousness and expediency, hints rather ambiguously at cunning. The other subtitles in the series are Jupiter Island – Precocious (Collection Vanhaerents, Torhout), Diesis – Keen (private collection, Belgium) and Unfuwain – Nashwan (private collection).
Happy Monday! Enjoy the coming week.
I’d love to hear from you!