Enduro evokes cycles: those of life but also of time, place, seasons, night and day, moon and stars. It suggests a continuum of permanence and impermanence, perseverance and transience. 17 paintings have been assembled together to form one large piece. Many compositional tricks lead the eye around its roughly ovoid shape.
This artwork references two main sources: the motorcycle races known as enduros, and the medieval philosophy of the scala naturae or Great Chain of Being. An enduro is an off-road race containing various challenges and obstacles; it is also a time trial, run against the clock. It seems an appropriate metaphor for human life, as well as that of a bird, spider, cactus or any other life form.
The scala naturae is a hierarchical classification of “living and non-living beings”, granting mankind dominion over all sentient beings and inanimate elements. This belief system, along with the consequences of its monumental hubris, still haunts our world today. In contrast, Enduro's chain is one of endless permutations and possibilities, based on interdependence and seeking to acknowledge the importance and unique beauty of each of its subjects.
17 panels, oil on wood; 84" x 144"
Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, permanent collection
© Anne Ashton 2011-2021