Chris Anthem (Lebanon/UK)
Liberate the Remains… (2015)
Oil on canvas
The submitted painting comes from a series painted in Beirut, Lebanon, where we’ve been raising our son.
The paintings are straightforward – a child playing with a severed head form, a telephone, cow udders, a drum. The baby has an unselfconscious relationship to the objects; whilst they are on the verge of disappearing into the chain of his own linguistic imagination, they have not quite yet.
John the Baptist, Hussein Ibn Ali, Holofernes, ISIS…. beheadings had been on my mind, raising a one year old whilst waiting in Beirut for ISIS to reach the Mediterranean. I wanted to take these historical beheadings and situate them in the pre-linguistic world of a child that is still capable of a direct undifferentiated relationship to the object.
My wife describes the paintings as ‘joyous’; playful nursery colours turn a violent world into a play. I find them enigmatic in their contradictions.
As a father they have been a way to articulate how I see my son in his growing autonomy and by extension my own becoming into subjectivity.
Chris Anthem holds an MA from Slade School of Fine Art, University College London. His works have been exhibited in the UK, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.