This is one of the most important paintings of my career to date, and the first that has moved me to tears and chills. It is a painting of a rhino named Roger whom I had met while on safari in South Africa. While at the game reserve, Jembisa – An African Bush Home, we learned about the startling horrors of rhino poaching. A huge lucrative market exists for the horns of rhinos which are used as an aphrodisiac. The rhino is killed and the horn removed. Precautions are taken to prevent poaching such as poisoning or sawing off the horn (which is like a toenail) and I believe Roger’s horn was poisoned. He also had 24 hour security that watched him within the bush. A few months after our visit, Roger was killed and his wife Rosie was put into critical condition (I believe she was pregnant at the time… I haven’t heard whether the baby was born or not). This painting has been on the back burner waiting for a time when I felt confident in creating the desired detail, particularly in the cracked skin, to bring honor and life back to Roger. I see the world in complex detail and I find immense joy in painting every nuance of color and shape. Not only is this the most labored over piece to date, but it is signal steering me in the direction I want to take my art… painting wildlife to lead conservations efforts and bring awareness to threatened species.
This painting brought me to tears and chills because I feel the spirit of Roger looking out from the painting. Do you?
Limited Edition prints of Roger are available here.