War on Civilians

Art has often judged the judges, pleaded revenge to the innocent and shown to the future what the past has suffered, so that is has never been forgotten  … Art when it functions like this becomes a meeting place of the invisible, the irreducible, the enduring, guts and honour.” – John Berger


Most of us would rather not look at paintings of destruction and carnage. But they are my witness that Art should and must document it, name it, expose our barbarism and shame. We must know that this will to war, a genetic wound on our species, diminishes any claims to enlightenment.

Education is our greatest need and duty, for it alone civilizes. Churches triumphant have failed our race. For buried in our psyches is a primitive nature that unleashed causes our will to war. It is the task of civilization to curb and enlighten. Wars are caused by this primordial, genetic inheritance. We covet beads and belongings, (resource wars), we organize around hierarchical structures (my country is superior), we adhere to tribal codes of belonging (we fear change and racial diversity), we need food and sex for procreation, (rape, stealing) we have a reverence for myth, story and ritual, (tales of conquest and defeat), and we have a hero’s search for meaning which often is channeled into wars, gangs, scapegoating. All of this we refuse to acknowledge in ourselves.

Click on thumbnails for a large version plus an annotation about each painting ⇓