The Peaceable Kingdom is a painting by Edward Hicks (April 4, 1780 – August 23, 1849). The right area of which appears to be the most congested area, in which the size of each object seems to reflect its importance regardless of its position in space. The painting depicts humans and animals interacting together, as the settlers in the background sign a treaty with the Native Americans.
Finneran’s new works look to dramatise the point that there is a ‘Kingdom’ at stake for both the colonist and the native Americans in the background, whilst the ‘Kingdom’ is depicted in the foreground. The works, oil and pastel on canvas and found postcards recreate the narrative splitting the stories protagonists, the figures, across multiple pictures.
…what grabbed me about the painting was the way the people in it, the functioning society making deals and agreeing, hypothetically, to share the land, are totally marginalized by the composition. The real painting is in the foreground in an absurd composition of floating animals and angels, a bear and a cow sharing some vegetation. Bears and cows don’t even eat the same thing, which is the second clue I guess, the first being the floating angels, we’re seeing death/heaven which is a little bleak looking at it on the page, but that has to be a reading of the painting. The society is aspiring to heaven, which we traditionally do, but we don’t traditionally say we’re aspiring to die. A living heaven is the ideal, but there isn’t anything like that. When the lion lies down with the lamb they’re dead. When there’s no more fighting and desire, there’s death. I think the Hicks painting that I want to represent and the way of creating an image that I think is interesting is the one where we represent something as free and possessing its own desires. I try not to craft an image that possesses my desires. As a picture maker I try to want to see something truthful and out of my control. The striding figure moves away, I don’t know what she wants. The figure just moves, the things I want to project onto the image just reflect my own ideas. The Colonists and Native Americans are making an agreement that reflects their desire to control their environment. Whether or not Hicks and I see the world the same way, he composes a painting that undermines their desire to control their world and nature. I agree with that. Trying to control is not looking and receiving, its the first part of telling yourself a story about what’s in front of you, which is fun sometimes, but rarely true.
– John Finneran, 2011