CHICHESTER photographer, Dennis Low is over the moon, having been selected for the annual Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.
His picture of Marwell Zoo’s rhinos will go on show as part of the largest open entry art exhibition in the world. It is one of around 1,200 artworks selected from more than 12,000 entries.
Dennis said: “The Summer Exhibition is an incredible platform for an emerging artist like myself.”
His photograph is the colour of a speckled tortoise covered with thick scales. It shows two rhinos, Kiri and Sula, at rest, and was first exhibited earlier this year at Aspex Gallery, Portsmouth.
“Central to my work is the questioning of how people look at animals,” Dennis explained.
“When the first rhinos were seen in Europe during the 16th century, spectators were filled with wonder, as if they’d seen a unicorn. Rhinos were so strange to them, they couldn’t understand what they were looking at.
“Illustrations, including one by Albrect Dürer from whom I borrow my title, abounded, depicting a huge, tank-like war-machine, complete with heavy armour plating, presumably necessary for all those mythical fights with elephants that rhinos were reputed to have in classical literature.
“Two hundred years later and things have changed. There’s a rhino, called Clara, touring Europe. Clara inspires a continent-wide craze for all things rhino, but, looking at paintings made of her, she’s been tamed somehow, diminished. There’s a painting in the National Gallery by Pietro Longhi, showing her in Venice (1751). She’s tiny! There’s a man waving a stick in an attempt to get her to do something, but the other onlookers, all dressed in carnival masks, look bored and more interested in what they’re wearing.
“My photograph’s a sort of companion to that Longhi painting. It explores what those fashionable Venetians - and, by extension, many moden zoo visitors - are missing. Animals are never boring, even when they’re at rest, they’re awesome, they’re amazing.”
The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition funs from June 8 to August 16 in Piccadilly, London.