In a 2004 interview, photographer Allan Sekula described the sea as “absolutely a space of contemporaneity”. Rather than being an unadulterated, primordial space, a place devoid of cargo ships and tons of plastic waste, Sekula regarded the sea as lived in space, a mapped world of transnational trade and military economies, in effect a social geography. Aikman’s oeuvre includes studies of military submarines (for example, Where I End and You Begin, 2008) and beached ships ready for shipbreaking in places such as Chittagong, Bangladesh. But his mature work eschews presenting the sea as a trafficked space of wilful plunder and careless ruin. Instead, and by slow increments, he has allowed the mythic to triumph.1
Aikman’s implication of the viewer here is important. His ambitions as a painter are principally focussed on evoking visceral psychological responses in his viewers. “My goal is to get under the skin or behind the veil of the purely visual experience of the image. Ultimately, my wish is for the viewer to engage with what lies beneath the surface within themselves.” Aikman’s stay at Lake Bracciano reinforced his sense of humankind’s primal sensibilities and psychological responses towards wild places, especially those adjacent large bodies of water. “The lake’s weather can change drastically, and it can, in turn, change the mood of the people...”2
1. Sean O’Toole (2019) Wildness, wild places and wild energies in Jake Aikman’s paintings. Granada: Suburbia Contemporary Art. Unpaginated.