Fortuna – Lauren Marx

I have been ever so slightly drawn to images of the cycle of life recently, which I am sure that you have noticed through the artwork that has been displayed on here.  On seeing this picture, I realised that other than roadkill which I whizz past in my car, I rarely see dead animals anymore, yet when I was a kid I seemed to see a lot of them.  I could put this down to being in a lot of fields when I was a kid and it wasn’t uncommon to see dead rabbits, foxes and birds whereas now I spend a good percentage of my week in an office, and don’t tend to run around fields anymore.  This does mean as I have grown I have been distanced from witnessing the cycle of nature first hand, which really I am ok with other than it is removing my links to the natural world.  This artist really got me thinking back about how nature uses every piece of dead body to continue its never ceasing progression.

Lauren Marx is an American based artist born in 1991.  She attributes her work to her love of animals and fond memories of the Saint Louis Zoo.  Marx studied at the Webster University and has a degree in fine art with an emphasis on drawing.  Despite her young age, she has had solo exhibitions at galleries such as the Roq La Rue and Corey Helford.

Some of the key to understanding Marx’s work is about understanding her own beliefs.  Marx identifies as an agnostic, who is striving to find her own religion.  She has identified about being obsessively anxious about mortality, which drives her to investigate her own created world for the answers that she doesn’t get from organised religion, despite there being evidence of regular symbols of organised religion within her work.  This said, Marx likes to fabricate her own views on the afterlife and entwines this with the stardust theory (that all humans contain stardust from the creation of the universe… which has been proven).

Marx’s work is packed with animals, insects, plant life and decay in another depiction of the balance of life.  Each item having its own symbolism and personal meaning to the artist to help her overcome the fear of her own mortality and bringing to her viewers the beautifully cruel side to the circle of life.

When I look at the drawing “Fortuna”, I obviously have to talk about the technique.  Marx has a keen eye for detail and portrays the subjects in absolute clarity.  We clearly see two wolves (or is it one with two heads?) with a hare.  The heads adorned with golden moths which are reticent of halos and white moths appear to be coming from the dead hare as if its sole is leaving its body to move on.  The wolves eyes are blank, as though they are blind, yet all seeing and appear to be at different means with the hare; one has killed the prey while the other appears to be cleaning it, almost as if in a ritualistic sacrificial act.

Marx has talked about the golden moths in interviews, and explained how she used them in her early work to identify with the stardust theory, but in her later work as used them as elemental factors to indicate the divine.  When I first saw this piece, it was definitely the moths that stood out first, against the mixtures of white giving a contrast to what looks like an autumnal setting.

Wolves have played a massive part in myth and folklore, so it is unsurprising that they have found themselves being portrayed in this artists work.  In Norse there are the two wolves of Odin, in Greek Apollo was also identified as a wolf, in Roman Romulus and Remus were bought up by a wolf.  There are many stories of these creature, and in some cultures they are highly revered… Cherokee folklore states that they will not hunt wolves because the brother of a fallen wolf would seek revenge, and any weapon that killed a wolf would never work correctly again.

This drawing, for me draws a little on the Cherokee folklore – the two heads showing trust and revenge in the same setting – which also makes me think of a Bidpai story of the wolf, the hare and the fox.

A hungry wolf was wondering through the forest, when it came upon a hare.  The wolf was about to pounce on the hare, when the hare spoke “Sir Wolf, I know that you are hungry and in search of food, but please consider my size.  I will be but a mear morsel to you, but there is a fox who is plump and would serve as a larger meal to you, not far from here. If it pleases you, I will pay a visit to the fox, and entice him from his lare, if he pleases you, you can then eat him and you will feel like you have truly dined”.

The wolf could see the logic of the argument and wanting to feel full, agree to the hare’s idea.  Running ahead, the hare asked the wolf to wait outside, while she went into the fox’s home.  The hare thought to herself as she entered, “this is such good fortune as not only will I be free from the wolf, but I will also be free from the fox who has chased me so many times through the bushes”.

When the hare got to the fox, she acted most humble, bowing low.  The fox was civil and asked what good fortune had brought the hare there.  The hare responded “only to worship your greatness, and I have one of my relatives outside who also wishes to kiss your paws, but they dare not enter without your permission”.

The fox mistrusted the flattery from the hare, but in a cunning display responded, “Madam, you do me a great honour, but before your relative enters, I would like to sweep the floor and lay out my finest carpet”.  The hare returned to the wolf and explained what had happened and the wolf’s mouth watered in anticipation.

Now the fox was not a stupid creature, he had long ago built a deep pit in the centre of the room, which was covered in twigs and grasses so that no one would know it was there.  The fox now swept away its disguise and covered it with a large rug.

The fox called to the hare that they could now enter.  The wolf entered first, but the hare eager to see the end to this game swiftly followed.  The wolf stepping on the rug, fell into the pit, and the hare tumbled down after him.  Thinking that it had been the hare’s plan to capture him all along, the wolf gulped down the hare, meanwhile the fox had exited through a secret door.

“Fortuna” for me brings all of these stories to life, with the wolfs power and civility shown so cleverly in the same drawing.  Marx incorporates so many themes to what on the surface seems to be a picture of wildlife, that this is another artist that I will be adding to my watch list.

You can see more of Marx’s work here.

What do you see in “Fortuna”?  Why not tell me in the comments?  Like this post?  Why not share it?

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