Jassie Home French with Oil Platform Fire (2020) brings us into an oxymoronic vision: bright and varied colors, ordered and geometric shapes contrast the natural disasters that often constitute the main subjects of the American artist’s canvases. The serenity suggested by the blue sky and the calm sea is interrupted by the main subject of the work: a burning oil tanker that carries with it the foreboding of an imminent environmental disaster. Below sea level the fish still seem calm, unaware of what is about to happen to them and at the same time victims of the irreversible action of pollution at the hands of humans.

For sixty years, French has been experimenting with his painting as a symbolic image aimed at representing the slow agony towards which our planet is heading faster and faster. Without giving up the poetry, the artist find new solutions inside forms and juxtaposition of subjects located between life and death, birth and destruction. Nature is constantly threatened by human intervention, the destructive effect is already visible: the burning stilts are ready to collapse into the sea and pour their toxic contents onto the fish. The artist, with his apparently happy subjects that hide the darkest and most threatening aspect of our reality, evokes the fragility of our present and the precariousness of the present with extraordinary naturalness.

In these apocalyptic scenarios, nature, despite the imminent threat, also seems detached, almost careless: French brings out the circularity of the natural cycle of life and death. A cycle that will not end even in the case of the extinction of human being, life forms will continue to inhabit and feed this cycle. Oil Platform Fire, by suggesting a presumable beginning of a sixth extinction rather than eliciting panic or anxiety reactions, invites awareness of a world in which man is the first victim of his own mistakes. Spectators of the harmonic destruction of the world, we just have to look at other living beings, hoping for an establishment of a new balance.


Jassie Homer Franch,
Oil Platform Fire, 2020, Oil on Canvas, 60.96 x 60.96 cm, Private Collection
All works with the additional support of VARIOUS SMALL FIRES, Los Angeles; MASSIMODECARLO
© Roberto Marossi, Courtesy La Biennale di Venezia