“PROPHECY”

2017

New exhibition “PROPHECY” with Flowers Gallery New York: May 3rd till June 10th 2017.

 

The title of the exhibition Prophecy refers to Howson’s apocalyptic vision of violence and inhumanity, which is conveyed in a new series of dramatic large-scale paintings and a sequence of smaller highly-worked allegorical panels.

Throughout his career, Howson has interwoven themes of conflict and destruction, human suffering and redemption in his imaginative portrayals of contemporary British society. Strongly influenced by witnessing the brutal and personally harrowing realities of combat as an official war artist commissioned by the Imperial War Museum, London during the Bosnian Civil War in 1993, Howson’s paintings have since been founded on increasingly nightmarish visions of chaos and atrocity, and populated by a cast of fantastic, grotesque characters.

The large painting Prophecy, which lends the exhibition its title, portrays a mob gathering in a dense and tumultuous throng around the central figure of Christ on the cross, surrounded by the desecrated remains of religious symbols and mythological beings. Half naked, or dressed in rags, they brandish torches and wave flags, engaging in seemingly mindless acts of violence or gesticulating in despair. Inspired in part by the abject inhabitants of the waiting room in Canto III of Dante’s Inferno (observed by Dante and his guide Virgil as the‘sorry souls of those who lived without disgrace and without praise’), these characters appear to move with zombie-like compliance and ambiguous collective purpose.

In contrast to the swarming and cinematic scope of Prophecy, a similarly monumental painting titled Were War Der Tor, one of two new paintings reviving themes from the late-medieval allegory of the Danse Macabre, has a more contained and economic composition. The trio of powerful musclebound figures striding across the canvas, armed with archaic weaponry, are flanked by a dragon-like creature and watched by a small group of cloaked figures. The three protagonists are dressed in the khaki green of military fatigues, the exaggerated contours of their bodies defined with strong tonal contrasts of light and shadow. The title Were War Der Tor (which translates from the German as ‘Who was the Fool’) indicates the sociocritical dimension to Howson’s contemporary allegory.

Prophecy
Prophecy
 
Were War Der Tor
Were War Der Tor
Danse Macabre
Danse Macabre
Le mal est-il-Bon? Is Evil then good?
Le mal est-il-Bon? Is Evil then good?
Wohin? Warum? Wie? Where? Why? How?
Wohin? Warum? Wie? Where? Why? How?
Interrogez! Interrogez! If ye will inquire, Inquire ye.
Interrogez! Interrogez! If ye will inquire, Inquire ye.
Und die Hölle; kam nach. [and Hell followed with him]
Und die Hölle; kam nach. [and Hell followed with him]
Wächter, Sage, was dir Kündet Die nacht! Watch man, What of the night.
Wächter, Sage, was dir Kündet Die nacht! Watch man, What of the night.
Curse them! Kill them! Verflucht Sie! Bringt sie um!
Curse them! Kill them! Verflucht Sie! Bringt sie um!
Pogroms A'Lest'
Pogroms A'Lest'
Kyre Eleison<br /> 'Lord have mercy on us'
Kyre Eleison
'Lord have mercy on us'
 
And Great will be Their Fall
And Great will be Their Fall