World Awhirl

World Awhirl – A Triptych, 2001-2011, 3-paneled collage left to right: Nightmare, 92cm x 136cm/36in x 53in; The Waking, 107cm x 166cm/42in x 65in; The Dream, 92cm x 136cm/36in x 53in –© 2020 Dixon Adair


A harkening back or homage to the great Flemish Masters Bosch and Breughel who opened our eyes to their views of the World, the Paradise from whence we came and the Hell that might await us. 

The three black and white panels should be viewed as one sweeping work with the largest panel in the center.  The composition of each panel is built along a vertical line through the middle.

Click on each of the panels below for detailed views.

Nightmare (left panel) – 2001-2011, collage, 92cm x 136cm/36in x 53in, © 2020 Dixon Adair


Hell is painful.

Between mirror images of a western gun-slinging six-shooter, a scorpion-wreathed vulture is silhouetted against a spiny pufferfish; people in anguish surround the vulture, their bodies providing a backdrop for a row of desolate rooftops. Moving down the center, a demon hides behind emaciated concentration camp victims; medical implements dangle upside down from an eye socket; a desperate child emerges from a Lamprey’s mouth framed by Kali’s Circle of Fire and boiling mud. 

To the far left, a hound leaps over stacks of cash and a prisoner suspended inside a cage. On the opposite side, goats, horn-locked, ensnare traffic and trains headed to the Gulag.  Yearning hands and a horrified captive emerge from a bullhorn siren.  To the left and right, a man dies in a gunfight while shooting through twisted iron bars.  Train bells on the left add to the clamor. 

A pyramid of artillery and tombstones above broken rails provide a platform for Charon, Hades’ ferryman.  Abundant details fill in the Horror.

The Waking (center panel) – 2001-11, collage, 107cm x 166cm/42in x 65in, © 2020 Dixon Adair


Not all together bleak, but somewhat grinding, this is daily life for much of humankind.

Moving upwards from the bottom, we first encounter Billy Sunday, famous evangelical leader, leaping above a walkway to an escalator leading us through a Lotus Flower to crisscrossing railroad tracks.  A lovely wagon is stuck between going left or right as African brides dance towards the center.  Flanking them, youth and age face each other from tilting ship decks.

Moving upward, a poppy-head fetus floats below a basket of bread, a bare baby crawls over a thorny cactus leaf.  Conveyor belts, satellites, highways and industry swirl.  Above the cactus, an exhausted arm in a bus strap hangs between svelte legs.  A desperate man seeks to break out from an imprisoning high rise.  Gold is being panned as performers sing.  At the top, a farmer plows into baked soil.  Turnstiles, gears of industry, power generation, food and drink preparation, transplantation, dance and idleness blend together. 

The Dream (right panel) – 2001-2011, collage, 92cm x 136cm/36in x 53in, © 2020 Dixon Adair


Heaven is joyful.

From above, the hand of the Almighty reigns.  A hand-held Bible emerges from a chalice held between Mother and Child, the whole embraced by balconied choirs.  Ballet dancers and gymnasts abound.  Dolphins leap out from boat sails.  The face of an owl—Wisdom—is circled by acrobatic planes.  Its talon grasps an apple around which children play.

The same boatman, whom we see from the back in Hell, faces us here and directs our attention to courting giraffes.

To the right, highways crisscross Saturn; to the left, a bass player plucks a jungle gym support.  Devotees in prayer are scattered about.  Happy ball players stand atop columns.  At the bottom of the panel, an exuberant child greets fanciful violinists.

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