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Joni-Leigh Doran’s new exhibition Cognisance reflects humanity in horses

Joni-Leigh Doran. Picture: Supplied

Joni-Leigh Doran. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 13, 2022


Joni-Leigh Doran’s latest body of work, “Cognisance An Exhibition of Equine Paintings,” unpacks the complex relationship between horses and humans.

Doran says these compelling art pieces present a species with a long and interconnected relationship with humans, sometimes to the point of “holy divinity”.

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“The horse's long service to humanity, and their deep awareness and understanding of a species other than themselves, is one we humans can only aspire to and yet humans have, since the beginning, subjected billions of horses to untold horrors and murderous exploitation,” comments Doran.

“The ghostlike form of various horses in these paintings is both a testament to those that have suffered and died as well as our sanctification of them and our admiration of their deep powers of intuition and knowledge that rises far beyond the cognitive abilities of our own species.”

Through these paintings, Doran pays homage to the horses she has known and loved.

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“These paintings are an enquiry into the spirit of the horse, and the deep and historical interconnectedness between us and them. The ephemeral portrayal of them in these works accentuates the opposing circumstances that horses currently face in cohabitation with humans, transcendence and tribulation.”

These paintings are Doran’s way to honour the horses she and loved. They all depict horses that she has known personally.

“When I was at school, they called me a horse girl. I spent almost all the free time I had drawing them when I wasn’t able to be with them. They (horses) embody so much of what in y mind humanity should aspire to.”

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The Wildness of Being. Picture: Supplied

Taking to Instagram this week, the Cape Town-based artist shared her creative process and the inspiration behind the latest solo exhibition.

She wrote: “A couple of months ago, after a year in which I lost two best friends, and my painting mentor; (I) made the spontaneous decision to buy a house in a village I barely knew; found myself in a beautiful new relationship, and all the flurries of energy, excitement and anxiety that come with all such life changes. I decided to give myself some time off. To take the pressure off painting.

“To get out of my head. To pick up my brushes and follow their guidance with no agenda. To get into the creative head space I slip into naturally when I’m out in the veld with Hugo. So I let the brushes lead me, and I let the horses guide me.

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“This exhibition is the result of letting go, of surrendering to time and space and brushes and paint and love. The result of dipping into feeling rather than thought.”

See the full post below.

Cognisance An Exhibition of Equine Paintings is currently displayed at the La Galleria, McGregor, until February 13.

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