A Dead Rodent Plus Two Carrots
What’s small and elegant and depicts a rodent, and in another work, two carrots? I first saw these paintings by the late John Wilde (1919-2006), at the Tory Folliard Gallery. Sandwiched between another Wilde (a green pepper), the terrific surrealist trio knocked me out.
Let’s start with the painting of the rodent, and beyond that, an obviously dead rodent. It’s one of the finest paintings I’ve ever viewed, bar none. But why depict decay? Why not depict the firmness of living flesh? Wilde seldom settled for the ordinary, which isn’t to say he slacked off while producing his juicy Cucumber Regal, a small Silverpoint and wash. Magic Realism is tricky. It often takes us where angels fear to tread. Wilde wasn’t afraid to go there.
Untitled (Two Carrots), memorializes a duo of carrots entwined. They’ve obviously lost the garden-freshness of their youthful days, the days when their leafy heads poked above the earth while they waited to be snatched and eaten. Now they resemble worn-out lovers lacking the will to go forward, their best days behind them.
Do yourself a favor. Go to Folliard Gallery and ask to see their full selection of Wilde’s work.