The work of artist Nick Sheehy plays out like darkened fables — Aesop’s ‘The Lion and the Mouse‘ if the lion ate the polite rodent at the story’s finale. In his painting ‘The Portrait,’ a skeleton dons a self-made mask of frogs and lizards, presumably an attempt to be seen as something different, real, not himself. Sheehy translates the trickery and deceit, those lesser of mankind’s impulses, into a world of beasts of all sizes emboldened with the ethos, ‘eat or be eaten.’
Sheehy’s brushwork is gentle, watercolor softly layered over his pencil marks. The scales of the fish and lizard, the fur of the beast — each rendered with such care, there is a lightness to his paintings that pleasantly betrays the strife of the creatures he depicts. There is a clear absurdist bent to Sheehy’s paintings, beyond that is a folk-art dedication to relating those common human struggles that have illed us since the dawn of time. Get food. Protect your food. Don’t be food. Sheehy works from a primal text, using animals as the stand-in for mankind — universal and timeless. Sheehy is an artist at work on his own myths and symbols, each canvas a piece of short fiction.