Watercolor, colored pencil, graphite on paper
Purchased with funds contributed by Mary and Donald Shockey, Jr. Edith Ferber, and The Vilcek Foundation, and the Kathleen Boone Samuels Memorial Fund, 2009.10
"With all that we know now, imagination is becoming extinct. I am trying to forget. I am pretending to be a naturalist from a time past."
— James Prosek
Widely known for more than half a dozen books he wrote and illustrated on trout, eels, and other fish and wildlife, Prosek has more recently emerged as an adventurous contemporary artist. One body of work, which features hybrid creatures, combines skillful renderings from nature with a strong dose of fantasy. This hybridity recalls the fantastical creatures made some five hundred years ago by Northern European artists who sought to comprehend pelts, skins, and feathers brought back by world voyagers along with descriptions and sketches.
This monumental work shows a glistening Pacific sailfish that Prosek caught in Mexico. The fish, which is painted life size, sports the wing of a parrot seamlessly substituted for its dorsal fin, while swirling Maori-like tattoos decorate its tail and pelvic fins.