Art was alive and well Saturday night at the Corey Helford Gallery, when Canadian-born painter Martin Wittfooth unveiled his latest collection, "Empire", to the masses. Wittfooth's exquisitely detailed pieces aimed to use animals in different settings as allegories for contemporary themes. What was more enrapturing than Wittfooth's concept, however, was the gripping exploration of color and depth on display through his vivid landscapes and animals. Lots of dark hues recalled the best of the baroque era and one piece, featuring a tiger with multiple tiger heads erupting from his mouth, flirted with the surreal.
In spite of all allegorical and ironic intentions, there was an immediacy to the exhibit that relayed a slightly more palpable theme not foreign to the artist's repertoire--that of a post-apocalyptic world now inhabited by the beasts who came before man. It was as if the artist took cues from the opening sequence to Terry Gilliam's 12 Monkeys in the best way imaginable. Few realms were left untouched. Vacant cities. Fallen helicopters in poppy fields. Ancient ruins crackling in fire. Therapist's offices. All served as backdrops for the new animal kingdom left in mankind's wake, or rather the resurgence of an old animal kingdom that came long before we built our first skyscraper or crashed our first market. Deeper meanings aside, Wittfooth remains an artist who rewards the viewer at first sight--the rest is just icing on the cake.