Everyday philosophies for dummies

The Bitter Sweet Philosophies

Paintings by Fedaeff Words by the KK Art Collective

Eunoia Publishing

Newspapers and magazines regularly run competitions for readers to provide captions for photographs, often of politicians and celebrities in compromising situations. What these often show is the wide range of interpretations readers will give to the one image. They range from the witty and sarcastic to the perceptive and philosophical.

It’s a phenomenon present on each of the pages of a new book The Bitter Sweet Philosophies. It looks very like a children’s book but it isn’t one. Artist Nick Fedaeff paints in the slightly surreal way of many European artists, creating figures that are a combination of doll-like and human figures.

He has created 55 separate images of childlike images, which look as though they are the pages of a child’s tale but are in fact strange glimpses of the child’s world seen through the eyes of an adult. A group of writers has then provided texts to accompany the images. In several cases there are a dozen “captions” to each page with the writers providing comments, description or rumination on the image. These are humorous, satirical, imaginative and philosophical comments, conjuring up notions of the fairy tale, the myth, personal stories and observations. 

So one image featuring a small girl walking up a hill with a house in the background has these responses: “The next day Jill went up and down the hill by herself, being much more careful where she stepped,” “For some reason she feared that that the moment her back was turned the house would fall down,” “This time Mrs Bates made it to the letterbox before Norman spotted her,” “Disappointingly, the Road To Nowhere had a new housing estate at the end,” “Mary was shattered when she realized they had lied to her about the world being flat.”

This book provides endless entertainment and enchantment. It could serve as coffee table book, an inspirational tract, a joke book or a replacement bible. The artist says of the work, “I’ve done my part. My pictures are obvious. But then you have different takes on each one. The writers have their own independent visions and points of view. It has been an unusual experience.”

Nick Fedaeff is originally from Russia but now lives in New Zealand working as an artist musician and composer.

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