Sunday, 6 March 2011

The Creatures of Bobby Chiu

It is quite possible that just about everyone with an active interest in paintings of fantastic animals has already seen the work of Bobby Chiu. If not, well, then I am happy to introduce his work to you. It does not really fit that well with what I normally discuss on this blog: I like a hefty dose of science in my creatures, and Mr Chiu's work does not provide that. But I have made exceptions in the past before (for instance here and here). On looking back at the exceptions I realised that I am never much impressed by fire-breathing dragons and aggressive mean-looking monsters. There are plenty of those to be found on covers of books or on Deviant Art, so it is not a lack of availability. Instead, a sense of humour is more important to me, and Mr Chiu's painting have that in abundance. If you wish to have a closer look, here is his own site, and you will also find him on Deviant Art and on the CG society. Or just try 'Bobby Chiu' on Google.

Click to enlarge; copyright Bobby Chiu

Did I mention that he is an incredibly good painter? Just look at the composition of this one. You really have to know what you are doing in order to lay out your subject in this way.

Click to enlarge; copyright Bobby Chiu

A 'Kangamolerat bunny'. I guess the name says a all: bits of kangaroo, naked molerat and bunny. I do not think I have to point to this cutie's dark side. I love the way the light strikes the rock wall behind the bunny.

Click to enlarge; copyright Bobby Chiu

A Baterpillar Farret. What else?

Click to enlarge; copyright Bobby Chiu

And a 'Big Bad Bunny Eater'. Mind you, there is some serious biology here: the real bunnies are obviously attracted by the fake one, so this is a nice example of 'aggressive mimicry'. Mimicry describes the situation where one living species resembles another one for some purpose. It is not camouflage, in which an animal merely tries to blend in with its environment. In defensive mimicry animals may look like more dangerous ones, which stops them from being attacked. But in aggressive mimicry the predator does the trickery, usually by mimicking something the prey is interested in. In this case, you wonder what it is about the fake bunny that so mesmerises the real bunnies? Could it be sexual attraction? It wouldn't be the first time a pair of pretty eyes led a man/bunny to his doom.

Click to enlarge; copyright Gert van Dijk

All this reminded me that I had once also painted a fictional animal displaying aggressive mimicry. The painting was done when I was about 20, and now, some decades later, it is lost; all I have is a poor black and white image. That is just as well in a way, as I would not dare to compare my painting skills with those of Mr Chiu. But the subject matter does lend itself well to a comparison: somewhat dumb herbivores are lured to a sinister fate by a predator with a cunning plan.

Oddly, both Mr Chiu's predator and mine seem to take a perverse delight in what they are doing. Perhaps there is 'aggressive mimicry' going on at different levels here: the humour hides something sinister, creeping through...


Evan Black said...

These paintings are fantastic in every sense of the word! I always appreciate a certain degree of whimsy in every speculative project I see, whether it's off-the-wall fantasy or a subject adhering to the strictest scientific scruples. It's a reliable measure of an artist's creativity, IMO.

Luke said...

Thanks for introducing me to this guy! I notice both you and him enjoy painting creatures with clean lines and rounded shapes.

Do you have a Deviantart account? If not, I feel like you should get one :) .

Marco Meredith said...

Beautiful art, he seems to be the sort of artist who is liberated from scientific accuracy, so much character and humor as you say. One half of the brain stares in wonder and the other recognises emotions or comical situations.


Anonymous said...

Don't sell yourself short - your images are the equal (and usually superior) to his.

Though your aquatic carnivore strikes me as more a the mimicked herbivore poisonous (and thus avoided by predators - thus providing the fish-eater more time to be undisturbed while fishing?)

just a thought.

Luke - I think he's trying to cut down on computer time (to have more time to work on Furaha)...a dA account would, in that regard, be counterproductive.

Sigmund Nastrazzurro said...

Hello Rodlox,

Thank you. but I know that Mr. Chiu is the better painter. I know that as well as I know that I am better at understanding how biology shapes shapes - yes, that sentence sounds awful, but you'll know what I mean.

Regarding the carnivore I came up with in the past and its teeth; well: looking back on it, it has a reptilian set of teeth and lack of cheeks, indeed suggesting a predilection for fish. But you are seeking too much subtlety in this old design; it eats what it can...

But as far as the DA account is concerned, you were perceptive and completely on the mark: I have no intention of publishing everything I've got on the internet, as that would leave me nothing to put in my book!