Undoing to the Natural World
In partnership with Fundação de Macau and Casa de Portugal, Pedro Versteeg launches his first online exhibition In Peril, a collection of works that positions human evolution in parallel with animal demise.
Habitat loss is a major issue for animals across the world. The relentless development of human society means more and more land is being destroyed, and as a result many animal species are facing constant threat of extinction.
Versteeg leaves little room for the viewer to escape from the reality their own species has created. Throughout the works he keeps animals as his primary subject in a conversation between images across different mediums that emphasise the impact of ever-growing urbanisation on the natural world.
The artist’s depiction of endangered animals such as the pandas of Macau, China, who’s natural food sources are being rapidly stripped away by deforestation, calls attention to the serious decline in population of beloved species. In Peril not only aims to shed light on this critical issue, the exhibitions virtual context highlights global habitats vanishing at intangible rates whilst the narrative holds humanity accountable in order to provoke change.
Based on the lunar calendar, the Chinese zodiac system assigns an animal and its reputed attributes to each year, repeating in a 12-year cycle.
Versteeg’s Zodiac series highlights the historic connection between humanity, animals, and their environment. Used to define character, moral compass, guide individual action and indicate a more global idea of what the year could hold, the artist’s use of this symbolism prompts a confrontation with ourselves. Suggesting humanity’s need to assess their lived experience, not as an individual but as a symbiotic relationship with nature.
Lucky Pig - Mixed technique on paper - 100 x 70 cm
Overline - Mixed technique on paper - 170 x 74 cm
Gold year- Mixed technique on paper - 100 x 70 cm
Gallo - Mixed technique on paper - 103 x 62,5 cm
Lisboa - Mixed technique on paper - 100 x 70 cm
Untitled - Mixed technique on paper - 100 x 70 cm
Untitled - Mixed technique on paper - 100 x 70 cm
2022 - Mixed technique on paper - 100 x 70 cm
Great dragon wall - Mixed technique on paper - 102 x 82 cm
Guardian - Mixed technique on paper - 102 x 82 cm
Ratatouille - Mixed technique on paper - 100 x 70 cm
Demise - Mixed technique on paper - 100 x 70 cm
Versteeg’s Blackboard series places each animal subject in the context of portraiture. While the framework highlights the power, importance, beauty of each species, the black backdrops suggest something more sinister. The artist captures a sense of loss and impermanence, emphasised by the fineness and fragility of his lines and drips. He allows each portrait to stand as its own record of existence. Grandeur captured in each composition and grief in each expression, Versteeg serves us hopeful reminders of our planet’s greatest treasures. He leaves them here as an urgent plea to protect them from further harm.
Untitled - Mixed technique on paper - 150 x 103 cm
White tiger - Mixed technique on paper - 156 x 109 cm
Deforestation - Mixed technique on paper - 110 x 91.5 cm
Farewell - Mixed technique on paper - 132 x 103.5 cm
Gambler II - Mixed technique on paper - 152 x 102 cm
Pardus - Mixed technique on paper - 152 x 110 cm
Lung - Mixed technique on paper - 72.5 x 76 cm
Black light - Mixed technique on paper - 140 x 100 cm
Versteeg simultaneously calls attention to the profound beauty and imminent vulnerability of the wildlife species featured in his ceramic series. By using ceramic as his medium, Versteeg is able to mirror a sense of natural phenomena. His rich glazes encompass the surface, drawing the viewer in to their design that echoes nature’s own. Versteeg seems to almost preserve each species in ceramic. Once the viewer steps back out, they cannot escape the uncomfortable truth that these works could become mere solidified memories of natural diversity.
Unresource Lily - Majolica - 50 x 30 x 8 cm
Last shout - Majolica - 45 x 45 cm
Choco II - Majolica - 95 x 47 x 7 cm
Blood cry - Majolica - 75 x 75 cm
Last turtle - Majolica - 45 x 45 x 11 cm
Golden fish - Majolica - 54 x 28 x 8 cm
Macau grown fish - Majolica- 105 x 90 cm
Capturing the immediacy of this global crisis, Versteeg’s series of large canvases communicate the overwhelming impact urbanisation has on the animal kingdom. His rapid, gestural mark making, layering of architectural details and at some points anthropomorphic imagery emphasise humanity’s encroaching power and presence over nature. By positioning animal imagery in and amongst these landscape, Versteeg’s paintings serves as a reminder of what we lose alongside what we gain.
Independicia - Mixed technique on canvas - 215 x 210 cm
Macau fish - Mixed technique on canvas - 97 x 73 cm
In peril city- Mixed technique on canvas - 215 x 635 cm
Emphasising the weight of humanity’s pressure on the natural world, Versteeg’s Tapete asks the viewer to consider their own impact and the marks they leave behind. Historically considered a symbol of authority, Versteeg’s use of the tapestry medium could be to suggest humanity’s unrelenting exploitation of nature for the sake of its own progress. The expression on the tiger depicted confronts the viewer with the fading spirit of the animal kingdom as a consequence of human activity.
Underground line - Textile handmade - 170 x 92 cm