W. K. Lyhne: We Are All Animals

We invite you to a private showing of W.K.Lyhne’s incendiary new series ‘We Are All Animals’, in a beautiful gallery space in the heart of Shoreditch. This series of 14-foot oil monoliths is emotive and involving, capturing the inestimable driving force that binds all life together.

3rd October – 19th October 2014, 10am – 6pm.

There will also be a private party on 2nd October, 6 – 8pm, patronised by Mark Hix of the Cock & Bull Gallery. You can RSVP to this special event by emailing lyhnewk@gmail.com

Art historian Dr Jacqueline Cockburn comments: “Luscious, seeping, dripping paint. W K Lyhne’s work fearlessly confronts the Masters. Rembrandt, yes of course, but also Soutine, Bacon, Saville, Sherman too. And we, her audience, have nowhere to hide. She confronts us too. I am looking forward to the show.”


123, Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, London, E2 7DG

We Are All Animals

The flayed ox has been part of the canon of art history for a long time.

When we consider the place of an animal to a community in the past, an animal they may have lived with over months or years and the cost and time of rearing, then in death the value of its meat, its skin, blood, fat, hide and so on to the family or community, we can understand why they have been painted so often through the centuries and often depicted almost as a domestic scene. Added to that split, carcasses are Christlike. (In the hands of Francis Bacon, extremely so. Terrifying and moving).

I visited an abattoir in Northern Ireland for the day. It is a place of theatre, of bangs, squelches, mooing from outside, heavy machinery, strong smells and men working on platforms up ladders, like the scaffold at Tyburn. It was like a scene from Titus Andronicus. To misquote Lady Macbeth , “who would have thought (a beast) would have so much blood in him”.

The staff are superb. From cow to beef in 40 minutes. Efficient and gentle. If I was a cow, that is where I would chose to die if I had to. But it’s still death.

A word about the size of the work. It’s very big. It’s not just supposed to be confrontationally imposing. (I started painting a few years ago on a vast scale because I was so cross about the injustices I was painting. Shouting in paint. But here it is because death scares me.)

The size here is crucial, because the viewer needs to be able to engage one to one. It’s roughly life size. When they pull up a cow by one leg, it’s enormous, truly vast; streaming blood. The staff normally hang two or three cows in one go.

When Rodin sculpted the “Burghers of Calais” he made them life size and placed them on an almost non-existent plinth of a few inches, cast into the sculpture. A plinth raises our view. Makes the figures remote. He wanted the viewer to almost walk among the figures, feeling the humiliation of their rags as they were obliged to hand over the keys to their fine city. In my work, the blue glove hand holding the knife, in the right foreground, is our hand. Life size and at our level. We are involved in the scene.