Berlin’s coat of arms might characteristic a bear, however everyone is aware of Germany’s capital is known as a metropolis of canines. Prefer it or not, Berliners should co-exist with town’s four-legged associates, sharing parks, pavements and even bars. That includes an array of what the exhibition literature tells us are homosexual males posing with their canines, the eleven work in Josip Novosel’s ‘The Good Boi’ match completely into this surroundings. Their titles are as simple because the scenes they depict: Portrait of a person with a canine (2022) exhibits a white-collar kind in a trench coat with a canine exterior the flamboyant entrance to a turn-of-the-century residence block; in Portrait of a person with a Dalmatian canine (2023), the protagonists embrace on a sunbeam; Morning run tempo the gaze (2022) depicts a moustachioed Tom Selleck lookalike and his canine going via their health routine, whereas Unconditional love (2023) portrays a fortunately expectant pug whose eyes mirror the silhouette of its returning proprietor. Every image depicts a microcosm of affection between human and animal: a self-contained, on a regular basis universe.
Novosel plunges these scenes into the form of saturated golden mild normally solely present in adverts, however that additionally casts onerous, darkish shadows through which the uncanny lurks. In Portrait of a person with a canine (2022), as an example, a shadow stretches virtually like a second character from the precise to cowl 1 / 4 of the face and neck space of a youthful man with robust legs and clunky footwear who holds a really cute lapdog in his robust arms. Novosel’s oranges and yellows are the antithesis of the cool blues and greys that Francis Bacon utilized in his frostily threatening Man with Canine (1953) – a nocturnal road scene for which the artist clearly drew on British photographer Eadweard Muybridge’s Nineteenth-century research of canine motion. Bacon’s mastiff shares its existential darkness with two different outstanding canines in artwork historical past: Francisco de Goya’s El Perro (The Canine, c.1819), which sits on their own like the only survivor of the apocalypse; and the equally forlorn baying hound on a seashore in J. M.W. Turner’s Daybreak After the Wreck (c.1841). Not like his well-known predecessors, nonetheless, Novosel just isn’t considering such depictions of desolation or aggression. His focus is on canines as relational animals, companions and mirror beings for people.
‘Co-habiting doesn’t imply fuzzy and touchy-feely,’ writes Donna Haraway in The Companion Species Manifesto (2003) – arguably essentially the most vital textual content on human-animal relationships of current years. As a substitute, she praises J. R. Ackerley’s My Canine Tulip (1956) for its celebration of the ‘seek for data of the intimate different, and the inevitable comedian and tragic errors in that quest’. With their fast, virtually cartoon-like aesthetic, Novosel’s photographs have interaction the dialog concerning the complicated topic space outlined by Haraway in a stunning, disarmingly joyful manner. However, whereas Haraway strives for the ‘multiform’ and ‘consequential’, there’s a good-natured simplicity to the human-dog relationships Novosel depicts, which, as he acknowledged in a considerably tongue-in-cheek video posted on the gallery’s Instagram, are a manner of exploring his ‘loyalty’ and need for ‘unconditional love’ as a homosexual man. On this mild, the artist’s work will be learn as strikingly candid portrayals of tenderness and the cross-species want for companionship. They present canines as allies within the combat in opposition to the harmful energy of loneliness.
Josip Novosel’s ‘The Good Boi’ is on view at Galerie Noah Klink, Berlin, till 6 April.
Fundamental picture: Josip Novosel, Portrait of a person with a Dalmatian canine (element), 2023, oil on handwoven cotton, 1.5 × 1.3 m. Courtesy: the artist and Galerie Noah Klink, Berlin; Photograph: Hans Georg Gaul