Ian Was Here

Painting of three men in a woods in winter with magpies fluttering around
Riley Waite, Ian Was Here, 2019. © Riley WaiteCredit

Riley Waite

Ian Was Here, 2019

Oil on canvas

In this narrative painting, the artist’s childhood friend Joseph stands in the Irish countryside. Grasping shears, he wrestles with the recent loss of their mutual friend Ian. In this fractured internal landscape, disengaged friends, paralleled by magpies, are disoriented by shock and grief, hinting at a greater systemic failure. The words ‘Ian was here’, carved into the impasto bark of a barren tree in painful mimicry of the boyhood ritual becomes more permanent than a stolen life, but less than memory.

< Back to the full shortlist

You might also like: