Robert Bissell’s (England 1952) – paintings explore the idea that animals have metaphysical importance to our own spiritual well-being. At first glance, Robert Bissell’s art suggests the struggles and triumphs of animals through a narrative painting style reminiscent of illustrative children’s books. But within Bissell’s work lies a more profound message. Familiar animals from our collective childhood, including bears and rabbits, are purposefully set in magical yet realistic landscapes to disarm viewers and draw us in.
Lured into a realm devoid of humans, the animal characters require us to consider our own condition and place in nature. We soon realise that the animals are actually reflections of ourselves. While whimsical at first glance, there is underlying tension and precariousness beneath the images. We begin to objectively consider ourselves and the world we live in, without familiar references.
Robert Bissell says about this artwork The Prayer:
“In Japan there is a phrase ‘Mono No Aware’ meaning ‘beautiful sadness’, referring to the transience and impermanence of all things. The snow monkeys found high up on Mt Fuji often seem to express this pathos in their acceptance of the hard life they lead. “The Prayer” is my expression of this sentiment. “