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Peace Like a River
Oil on panel
33 x 34 x 2 inches
Rehs Contemporary Galleries, Inc., New York City
n the ancient prophetic book of Isaiah, the imagery of a river cutting through a barren wasteland is symbolic of the eschatological hope that justice and mercy will one day reign, ushering in peace and wholeness. After reading about the nations streaming to the holy mountain, I envisioned a pod of Orcas released from aquarium amusement parks, journeying down a canyon river toward their intended home. On the way, they pass remnants of humankind: a hewn cave and carnage from the drought, their ancestor’s bones, which await resurrection to new life.
While I live near Marineland in Niagara Falls, Ontario, after seeing the 2013 documentary Blackfish my eyes were opened to the consequences of keeping orcas in captivity: sensory deprivation, increased aggression, lower-life expectancy. The Princeton Encyclopedia of Mammals (edited by David W. Macdonald) corroborates this by asserting that the complex social lives of cetaceans in the wild cannot be recreated in captivity, where unnatural stress is placed on these animals.
Shortly after I completed this painting, thanks to the tireless efforts of activist groups across Canada, the Senate passed a bill that will ban whale and dolphin captivity in our country. Finally, these beautiful and intelligent animals will stop being exploited for our amusement, and live free in the oceans where they belong.
Born in 1995 in Moscow, Russia, Josh Tiessen is an international award-winning artist based near Toronto, Canada. Tiessen is best known for his hyper-surreal shaped oil paintings, which take up to 1700 hours to complete, and reflect the interaction between the natural world and human-made structures, drawing upon his studies in philosophy and theology.
As a young artist Tiessen was designated one of the world's top ten prodigy artists by Huffington Post, and the only known male art prodigy in North America by Dr. J. Ruthsatz, global prodigy expert. As a teenager he was juried in as the youngest member of International Guild of Realism among foremost realist artists from around the world, Artists for Conservation and Society of Animal Artists, elite groups of the top nature and wildlife artists worldwide. Art Renewal Center designated him Associate Living Master, and New York based gallery Jonathan LeVine Projects awarded him First Place from 2000 artists in their international competition Search for the Next Great Artist. LeVine presented the emerging artist’s debut international solo exhibition “Streams in the Wasteland” in May of 2019.
Mentored by masters like acclaimed Canadian artist Robert Bateman, Tiessen has exhibited his work since 2006 in over 100 exhibitions including the National Gallery of Canada and prominent galleries in the United States. He has sold over 150 original works and hundreds of limited edition giclée prints to private and corporate Canadian and international collectors.
Featured over 200 times in the press & media (Forbes, American Art Collector, International Artist), speaking and teaching at 60 venues, and making 90 invited art donations to charitable organizations, Tiessen established the Arts for a Change Foundation. This prolific artist has garnered over 60 awards and honours including International Guild of Realism Creative Achievement, Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and Canada's Top 20 Under 20, for his artistic accomplishment and philanthropic work.