Inspired by “Where The Wild Things Are”, a popular and beautifully illustrated children’s story by Maurice Sendak, the D’Aguilar Art Foundation’s (DAF) most recent exhibition of the same name explores the wild and scary creatures of our imaginations, and the dark and foreboding places where they might be found.
While only a simple children’s story, the appeal of “Where the Wild Things Are” is universal, finding favor with young and old since it was published in 1963. Its protagonist, the heroic young Max, confronts his fears of the night with great fantasy, overcoming terrifying encounters with monstrous beasts on stormy seas and in brooding landscapes.
The wild things featured in literature, art and film are often inspired by animals found in the wild; animals that could pose a real threat to humans – such as lions, crocodiles and sharks. Of course, artistic interpretations of these creatures often exaggerate their most terrifying features, with audiences embracing the thrill of the fear they inspire. Other monsters, such as dragons and skeletons, are the product of age-old myths that have become part of our collective memories of darkness. In recent times, a refreshing new look at what is frightening has surfaced, with children’s films such as Monsters Inc. dissecting the story of the monster under the bed and turning the figments of children’s nightmares into endearing characters.
Wild and hostile landscapes form an essential backdrop to many fearful visions, whether an allegorical representation of burning in hell, lost in stormy seas, stranded in a violent storm, or running from threats in a crumbling urban environment. Paintings that depict these powerful scenes can be challenging to live with, which is why many of the works in the DAF collection featured in this exhibit are not often on view. Yet these disturbing paintings are important in reminding us of the chaos and disintegration that could occur in our midst if we do not continue to strive for peace, order and progress.
The show, therefore, illustrates both the wild things – the monsters and demons and wild animals that symbolize our fears of the unknown, and where they dwell – the dark nooks and crannies of the world where unknowable threats can hide.
Where the Wild Things Are opened on Thursday, September 24 and will be on display at the D’Aguilar Art Foundation until November 5, 2015. The DAF is open to the public Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. or by appointment. To find out more about the foundation or its exhibitions, call 322-2323