Donna Abbate - Artist Statement
I play the mad scientist with art. A surrealist at heart, I juxtapose forms based on nature, known and unknown, microscopic and macroscopic. My artwork is an orchestration of chaos; colors, shapes, plants, landscapes, animals, figures, collected and layered into a two dimensional spirit. Like a spirit, each piece has a sense of self; a stately portrait, a dreamlike landscape or a scientific study of flora, infused with a vital force that challenges the veil of reality.
These illustrations become, for me, a way to celebrate the mysterious and fantastic elements of our planet, asking the viewer to look again at their surroundings and contemplate the way things could be if there were no limits on our natural world.
"Napoleon's Rabbit Army"
Lost in the annals of history is the little known battalion of Napoleon's Rabbit Army. The portrait "Sergeant Major" is of Pierre Baptiste, who bravely commanded the rabbit army's infantry during the War of the Fifth Coalition in 1809. Napoleon enlisted the rabbits to bring into play their trickster military tactics and use of cunning. As opposed to brutal force, the rabbits were known to outwit their enemies instead.
"The Aviary Dance"
There is an ancient belief that the movement and language of birds is mystical and prophetic. I weave this belief with images of ballet, hoping the relationship between the animal spirit and the joy of dance inspires a new appreciation for nature's beauty and magic.
"Birds of Pray"
This is another view of birds as angelic or divine. I connect this idea with Christian based imagery to conjure a symbiotic relationship between creature spirituality and humanity. The surrealism is within that dream world of religion and primeval mythology.
"The Worlds We Live In"
Pages from an old science book are used as the starting point upon which layers of mysterious shapes, colors and landscapes are interlaced. The words and images left untouched upon the page are visual clues, symbols of reality caught in a world of non-reality. The artwork is sewn onto Braille paper as a metaphor. There is a story here our eyes can touch, but cannot read, except through imagination.