The exhibition will run from 7 October to 18 November. Enchanting yet illusory, Naughten’s striking vision aims to highlight the perilous state of the natural word. Trained in both photography and painting, he combines these backgrounds in a practice he refers to as ‘digital painting’, using digital enhancement programmes to conjure worlds that feel familiar yet strange. From orangutans swinging through psychedelic forests, to deer roaming saturated canyons, Naughten’s work explores the idea of the natural world as a faraway fictional fantasy – alerting us to its rapid disappearance and our growing estrangement.
At the heart of Naughten’s work is a strong interest in scientific and biological theory, as reflected in the exhibition title. Eremozoic is a term coined by biologist and writer E. O. Wilson to describe the current era of the Earth’s development, characterised as a period of mass extinction due to human activity. The Eremozoic Age is alternatively referred to as The Age of Loneliness, and this sense of dislocation and disorientation is captured in Naughten’s depiction of nature as an unfamiliar, unnatural realm.
Inspired by dioramas of animal forms found in natural history museums all over the world, Naughten extrapolates these images and digitally reimagines them in defamiliarised and unrealistic contexts. By further exoticising his landscapes with a heightened, artificial colour palette, he draws literal attention to our rose-tinted view of the future of the natural world. His technique of digital painting evokes a style close to magic realism, in which the boundary between fact and fiction, imagination and reality, becomes blurred through the intersection of mediums.
‘Eremozoic is a continuation of my practice but undoubtedly my most important project to date,’ says the artist. ‘I’m interested in how, in the evolutionary blink of an eye, humans have come to dominate and overwhelm the planet and how far our relationship with the natural world has fundamentally and dangerously shifted from that of our ancestors. I hope the work will create awareness and discourse about this disconnection, our fictionalised ideas about nature and possibilities for positive change.’
Dazzling and distorting us with new perspectives on our relationship with nature, Jim Naughten’s Eremozoic presents an eye-catching body of work that encourages us to look – and think – twice. This exhibition is in support of Fauna & Flora International (Registered Charity Number: 1011102), 10% of all proceeds will be donated to the charity towards its vital work.