Murals & Myths

Red Bull, oil on canvas, 1.2 m x 1.5 m by Peter Jonas




Peter Jonas' paintings are more than a backdrop to the struggle of individuals in society; although he started in South Africa's Cape Town he has also worked for over 20 years with London's youths on mural painting projects covering scruffy walls with images to attract interest and respect amongst the local community.



In his own painting Peter prefers to relate the simple image of a magnificent horse, which has at its feet incongruously, to the huge Devil's Canyon that is in the background, toy soldiers firing at each other and scattering bullets in all directions, while one dies another appears to be running away for cover while looking through infrared goggles. He manages to include such detail in his paintings by the scale on which he paints his ambitious canvases. This painting, The Trojan Horse Massacre, is at least a metre wide and nearly two metres in height.


The horse is bisected exactly in its middle by what appears to be an abomination. Rather than its hide extending over its abdomen there is what appears to have been an incision and the replacement of flesh with mechanical parts, such as metal springs and cogs, which are spilling out. This is a technique which Peter has reused in a series he has done confronting us with animals in a natural setting so that as we look longer we start to feel uncomfortably aware that this is no naturalist rendering, but a thought provoking comment on man's influence over his environment and the way the world appears to veer sinisterly out of control



If you look at his Red Bull it similarly has a cross section of stomach that is missing which in this case has a sort of comic effect as the huge, powerful animal strides from left to right, oblivious to its contorted innards being harmed. 'Red Bull gives you that immediate high,' Peter says smiling, 'but then you come back down and feel bad.'






Have the innards of the animal been removed? Is the joke really on humanity in his loss of control, as he pumps himself with stimulants that increase his mechanical ability to continue when his body should be resting?





It is also dubbed the 'Taurine Economy' as taurine is the chemical in Red Bull that gives you an artificial high, while also hinting at how our whole anatomy and that of society and the whole spectrum of human life is controlled by artificial stimulants that must leave an imbalance in that the rhythms of life have been disposed of in favour of exalted states that can only lead to eventual exhaustion and collapse.





More on the work of Peter Jonas can be found at his website


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