The Singing and the Silence: Birds in Contemporary Art

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Walton Ford, Eothen
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Walton Ford

watercolor, gouache, and pencil and ink on paper
40 x 60 in.
The Cartin Collection
Image courtesy of the artist and Paul Kasmin Gallery

Made in the wake of 9/11, Eothen is one of Ford’s most brooding and enigmatic paintings. The title is a Greek word meaning "from the east" and also a reference to a nineteenth-century travel account of the Ottoman Empire. According to the artist, the besieged peacock represents the conflicts waged on Middle Eastern soil over the centuries. The bird’s smoldering train might also reference the ancient belief that peacocks were immortal. It is unclear if Ford’s bird is rising from the ashes or being devoured by them. In either case, it is a powerful commentary on death, resurrection, and geopolitics.

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