Best of Activist Art: Steven Giese

Calling the lush Northern Rivers region of NSW home, it’s no surprise Steven Giese has a particular interest in the preservation of the natural environment. Working across the mediums of painting and printmaking, it is only now, after more than 20 years as a teacher, that Steve is finding more time to invest in his activist-driven practice. “We are living in times with so many tipping points – environmental, social and geopolitical,” he says. “An epic narrative is taking place on so many fronts.” Issues such as the growing threat of climate change, species extinction, habitat destruction and human overpopulation are just some of his muses. Steven cites figurative artists from Bosch and Bruegel to Max Beckmann as influences on his work and admits that the drama of Baroque paintings has been an enduring source of inspiration. “To resist the deluge of glib visual distraction we endure, a painted image should be something highly unusual,” he believes. The whimsical aesthetic of his work belies its biting social commentary; it is foremost compositional elements that first draw the viewer in, making his criticism of issues like human greed, consumerism, corporate corruption and short-sighted politics all the more effective.

Featured image: Steven Giese, The Bankers Dream. Oil on canvas, 130 x 130cm. Courtesy: the artist.

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