Is it possible to inspire awe without fear? Beastman's solo show Cosmic Nature says yes. Painting inconceivably large and dangerous creatures, he renders them comprehensible by the action of his brush, taking you briefly to a world where awe and terror part company. The creatures are frozen at the moment of dark revelation — Beastman has taken his inspiration from the work of H.P. Lovecraft, whose Cthulu mythos intimated a world of unspeakable inhuman creatures. Beastman brings this leviathan scale to his canvases in a verdant style, and mosaic of organic colours which combine to tug you to the edge of an awful, spiritual space.
The show is divided in two along the gallery's two facing walls. The left-hand wall presents the nameless creatures in a kind of triptych: striding, observing and absorbed at ritual. A central somber face takes up the middle image. Either side, its companions face outward in Babylonian profile, their figures at play with radiating collections of limb and heavenly symbols. To one side, a creature takes a casual moment to fill his bowl with the drops of water ever present across all three canvases. It is a mix of the sacred and a trip to the shops. On the other side, a figure with one eye and too many teeth solemnly approaches a bare tree, a ritual moment at once awful and comforting. Between them are symbols of their observance: the tree, water drops and mountains of madness.
Along the right-hand wall are the creature's faces in close up. These idly malevolent, jack-of-the-green countenances look like harsh adornments to the doors of some ancient temple. The portraits are massive, requiring you to stride across the room to see them properly. They sit contently, their thoughts drifting away from you. Headed nowhere benign.
Kind of Gallery is open afternoons, Thursday to Sunday.
Image 'The Descendent of Cosmic Nature' by Beastman