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Archive > Tanya Myshkin, Compassion

Exhibition runs from 6pm June – 3pm 25 June.

Compassion – Tanya Myshkin

Compassion is a feeling that human beings can have for the sufferings of other humans or of animals. It often leads to some effort to alleviate those sufferings, or at least to some expression of sympathy for the sufferers. It can also lead artists to represent suffering in their work in such a way as to sharpen the viewers' sensitivity to suffering in general. A famous modern example of such work is Picasso's Guernica, which was inspired by a particular bombing raid during the Spanish Civil War, but which has become a symbol for the suffering inflicted in wars in general.

The central work of this exhibition, the wood-engraving Abstract Compassion, alludes to the well-known legend of St Jerome removing a thorn from the paw of a lion. The lion then followed Jerome about, and is often depicted in earlier art lying quietly in Jerome's study.

This is a quote from Umberto Eco: If the print exists, there must have existed something whose print it is.”

“But different from the print, you say, [says Adso].”

“Of course. The print does not always have the same shape as the body that impressed it, and it doesn’t always derive from the pressure of a body. At times it reproduces the impression a body has left in our mind: it is the print of an idea. The idea is sign of things, and the image is sign of the idea, sign of a sign. But from the image I reconstruct, if not the body, the idea that others had of it.”

Abstract compassion attempts to represent the legend in a more universal form as the idea I have of St. Jerome and of what it means to be compassionate.

The other works in the exhibition, life-drawings and the smaller wood-engraving, entitled simply Compassion, all depict human beings or animals, unsentimentally, as vulnerable creatures bearing the marks of the suffering which all life involves.