Elon Musk is weary. Bill Gates warns. Stephen Hawkins decries. The subject of their concern is, of course, artificial intelligence. Humanity may be doomed. One day it may be replaced by its own creation, but whether or not such doomsday scenario comes to fruition, one thing is irrefutable. Humans have always had an insatiable hunger for better understanding of the world around them and their place within it. In the 16th century, alchemists wrote of the homunculus, or a “little man,” exploring the methods to artificially create a person without a mother’s womb. The quest, it seems, had as much to do with attaining the ultimate power of creation as understanding the human nature. In Guy Kinnear’s latest works, the artist’s desire to decipher the nature of the mankind continues.
Drawing inspirations from the late 16th and early 17th century Italian masters, Kinnear’s oil paintings appear to be most concerned with the technical acuity of forms, figures, and the use of light and shadow — Chiaroscuro. The result is a dramatic narrative that is both convincing and mysterious. In the series Homunculus Cycle, however, the mystery is exaggerated by the little oddball creatures going about their day.
Two freakishly kooky figures sit indoors as if to be deep in thought, lamenting about their existential crisis but unable to express any hint of melancholy on their stitched faces. Other two beings are outside under a blue sky. As far as we can tell, they are jovially spirited. But once again, their inability to flex their textile muscles to put on a grin adds to the uncertainty. The origin of these strangers, nevertheless, is beyond the point. The proper questions to ask are, “What are they thinking? Can they actually think? Do they have a soul? How are they different from us? Are we any different? What makes us unique?” The artist’s narratives do not offer an easy answer.
Instead, in a rather lyrical gesture, Kinnear presents a desire and struggle, staged on layered collage drawings. Simply contoured in black or brown placed against the white void, the scenes are light, airy, and altogether poetic. As suggested in one of the drawings titled It Takes Finesse (pictured at top), comprehending our humanness is like trying to fly a kite while hopping, skipping, and jumping on a bed of flower petals. Carving out our role in an ever more complex cultural and social environment does indeed take great finesse. It is not easy. It requires commitment. It takes one hell of a creative mind.www.guykinnear.com.
All images courtesy of artist.