Peter van Straten Art by Peter van Straten

The man on the street

The recent Tsunami in Japan ruined so much for so many, and its timing was bad for this painting, which was started months before the earthquake, and features a metaphorical wave (a socio-political wave to be precise) rather than a physical wave, and I worry that some might view it as the latter. A journalist doing a piece on a previous show once teased me about how I try to control the way people view my pictures – something I hadn’t been aware of at all until it was pointed out, and here it raises its head again. It is as if I am only intersted in illuminating very specific moments of understanding, and even the slightest shift in focus (like bumping a camera on a tripod) could render the image meaningless.

This is also a painting about silence: not only the silence (inner and outer) that follows disaster, but also the simplicity of clutter stripped away. Even amidst my financial tooth gnashing of 2009 I was grateful for the reminder of vulnerability and simplicity, lessons forgotten in a flash as the next wave washed over us – the wave of business as usual. But how can it be otherwise? To dare, to grow we have to forget! And so the little yin whale and the little yang whale chase each other’s tails around, forever.