'Headless Horseman' by Scott Listfield, 2020
From a featured piece in the artist's recent "Quarantine" exhibition.
16 x 20 Inches
Archival pigment print on fine art paper.
Limited Edition of 50 (#8/50)
Signed and numbered by the artist.
ABOUT THE ART
"I began working on this series of paintings while the world was in lockdown. Most of the planet was stuck at home riding out a pandemic unlike anything we've experienced in 100 years. City streets were empty, buildings boarded up, coyotes and tumbleweeds inhabited downtown. I began to hear from people that the real world was looking more and more like one of my paintings. Needless to say, this gave me pause. It's always good as an artist to feel like you're in the zeitgeist. That you're capturing the time you're living in. It's another thing entirely to get the uneasy feeling that you've predicted a fairly bleak present. I was struggling with what to do with this knowledge. I had people asking me, only half jokingly, to make paintings of a future that was considerably more pleasant than the one we were living through. How about rainbows instead of deserts? Unicorns and ice cream instead of empty and abandoned city streets?
And I, like many people, struggled with how to talk about this time we were all living through. How do I continue to make paintings when real life was stranger than anything I could imagine? And as weird and unprecedented as it all was, the longer I lived in quarantine, the more my actual life became mundane and borderless. I didn't see friends. I didn't see family. I barely left the house. Days became weeks became months. Time almost entirely ceased to have real meaning. There were no singular events in my life to delineate the passage of time. Things I watched on Netflix felt real and my real life felt unreal. The edge between things felt blurry. To compensate for lack of activity, my brain started dispatching me into increasingly surreal dreams in the early morning, leaving me groggy and confused. Reality was bending, it was starting to lose meaning.
And then, in the midst of it all, George Floyd.
The world seemed to tip on it's axis. Once empty cities filled with fire and protest. Months of nothingness suddenly became too much. The blurry and surreal dreamscape I was floating through was filled with an endless barrage of news and news and news and news. Almost all of it bad. And yet there was the feeling that we were moving towards something. Finally. Hundreds of years of oppression were, if not ending, at least facing a reckoning. Maybe. Hopefully. Statues toppled and fell. Fires, literal and metaphorical, continued to burn.
And the virus picked up steam again. And we're all trapped inside of a snow globe being shaken every few days. The things that felt essential a few months ago seem meaningless now, and those three months might feel like three decades or three minutes, depending on how you look at it.
I've struggled to try and stay motivated during this time. So much has happened and yet I've barely left my house. Wandering daily from my downstairs studio to my upstairs living room couch and then back again. My work is very much about exploration. AllI've had to explore recently is the darker depths of my own mind.
And so in these new paintings, the astronaut that roams my work wanders through deserted cities literally tipping and falling. Where gravity has it's own free will. Bits and pieces of a recognizable pop culture landscape fall through these scenes sideways, toppling along with statues. Things break. Things burn. But the astronaut, like us, keeps going."
- Scott Listfield