In his work, Rafael McKenzie Soares often considers the integral role animals play in the history of art, literature, and popular culture. For example, he considers Walt Disney’s animated films to be more than just children’s stories come to life. For him, these works also serve as affecting commentaries on the human condition. “In the story of Dumbo and Bambi,” he has said, “we can identify man’s conflicting emotions—our anxieties central to our fear of loss . . . as well as man’s struggle in modern life to protect the environment.” Soares creates stirringly accurate renderings of wildlife, a subject that has been integral for generations of Brazilian artists. Age of Discovery presents a frontal and side view of a chimpanzee; however, the title points to a time in human history when, from the end of the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries, whole continents were first explored by Europeans. The chimpanzee can be understood as a symbol of man’s evolution, but as a representative of an endangered species, it reminds us of the costs of such advances.
Label from Menagerie: Animals on View, March 11–June 4, 2017