The deer and the nostalgia for nature / Francesco Poli
Orion Shima’s recent paintings are a free, sensitive and profound expression of a melancholy and nostalgic interpretation of nature that seem to stem from memories, experiences and adolescent reveries. At the same time, metaphorically, it can be seen as a refined contemplation on the proper nature of painting as an irreplaceable language, something that generates a personal and genuinely poetic vision of universal value. Shima’s paintings are capable of preserving that precious and fragile esthetic tension born out of a figuration suspended between reality and imagination. His work is immersed into a time-space dimension that seems distant from the convoluted reality of contemporary society.
Shima is fascinated by the intricate beauty of the forest undergrowth, by the waters flowing from the rivers and creeks snaking in between vegetation and rocks. His gaze always remains distinctly close and rarely does a piece of sky intrude into the background.
What dominates is a wide range of colors, from blue to grey to white, with delicate tonalities and suffused luminosity creating a silent and strange atmosphere. This is to be found mainly in the winter landscapes where the painter succeeds in intensely conveying his singular attitude toward the mysterious magic allure of wild life.
These are landscapes painted with an almost effortless technique, throws of paint and touches of colors that in their freshness and immediacy, gather the vibrating and vital essence of the land, of the tree branches and the unspoiled snow, without being held hostage by excessive particular details. The sole protagonist of these white and unspoiled natural spaces appears to be the deer, the most beautiful and elegant creature roaming the forests. This deer — the animal symbolizing strength and freedom, so dear to the Goddess Artemis — represents nature threatened by mankind. Different from the mythical Orion, revered as the sharpest and most merciless hunter (who was killed by Artemis and transformed into a constellation), Orion Shima, by using his brush as a weapon, enlists himself decidedly to the protection of ecology.
The artist manages to capture on paper and canvas, the marvelous sensation of a sudden appearance by the deer, which, in a heartbeat, could disappear as soon as it becomes aware of our presence. He also transmits the sad, sorrowful vision of a lifeless fawn lying on the snow.
Perhaps less lyrical but nonetheless still suggestive are the vibrant chromatic representations of these same places in other seasons of the year.
You can still spot a deer here or there, but another figure emerges now as a solitary protagonist. It is a boy seated next to the flowing waters, entirely preoccupied by the magic of nature he is surrounded by, or caught in the moment when he removes his swimming suit. However the most significant image is that of a seated boy drawing with a pencil. Undoubtedly it, represents a sort of self-portrait of the painter in his youth, a memory of past experience that set the path in motion for his creative vocation. But it could also represent the ideal vision of the artist, who, in order to keep alive his fertile imagination, must always preserve inside himself a little bit of the child.
There are also some other works dominated by grey tonalities and a sad, mournful light, where appear animals such as an ostrich or a caged fox: creatures that have been deprived of their freedom and alienated from their natural habitat.
At the end of the series, there is an enigmatic painting, always dominated by greys, which depicts the wreck of a huge boat, half-sunk, in a bank of water. Perhaps this work, most of all, extends an open invitation to reflect upon the present and future of our fleeting existence in relation to the reality that surrounds us.