"Exist or Extinct… Albatross"

"Exist or Extinct… Albatross" • 36" x 60" • Acrylic Painting

The initial idea for this painting came from a discussion with wildlife artist Robert Bateman. I had asked him what he had felt was one of the main subjects he is interested in painting at the time. He told me about the Albatross and how the species is struggling due to loss of it's eggs. They lay only one egg per year and many of these are being destroyed by invasive species. The existence of the albatross is dependent on successful hatching of their eggs.

The images in the painting indicate either a positive or negative for the future existence of the albatross species. I have tried to balance both the positive and the negative throughout the painting. Many of the images can go either direction depending on how you look at them. Often times it will be the viewers interpretation as to which direction they choose to see.

As you view the overall painting you decide what message to receive… is it saying that the Albatross will exist or slip into extinction?

Does the Skull / bird image represent a "Dead bird flying"? or… A strong bird that will fight back from the edge of extinction?

The Egg… Does it represent a cracked and dying egg showing the end of hope for a new generation? or… A soon to hatch beginning of life and future generations?

Does the cliff indicate tombstones as a graveyard for the species? or... Is it a safe nesting ground providing protection for the eggs?

Is the setting at dusk leading into night and the end of day for the albatross? or… Is it dawn and the beginning of a new day?



Is the distant albatross flying into the sunset, the last of it's species? or… Is it flying towards the viewer from the dawn of a new day?

I added the human skull to represent the death of mankind. Not so much as the idea of our extinction as much as our spirit dying every time we allow a species to vanish without doing all we can to protect the world around us.

In the wing there are three "Grim Reaper" death figures balanced with seven figures in a "Prayerful" mood.

Is the river indicating the river Styx leading to death? or… A river of life flowing towards the egg?

I have included a figure representative of one by surrealist illustrator Alfred Kubin from his 1903 painting "The Tower of Babel". In my painting the "witchlike" figure is holding an hour glass… appropriately half full or half empty.
As in the painting it is up to the viewer to decide if this is a painting of the extinction of the albatross or the existence? It also is meant to inspire us as individuals to take more of an active roll in our natural world around us. We actually can decide what will happen to many of the earths inhabitants that are struggling as species to survive.

It is up to the viewer to decide the future of the albatross as a species…

Exist or Extinct?

All images, artwork & written content are ©Copyright Philip S. Brevick