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Bigger Fish is a painting made using tempera and acrylic paint on cardboard. The painting depicts a mushroom cloud shaped silhouette. The silhouette also appears like a human profile, and a swarm of fish appears like the brain. One large blue fish is biting into the smaller red fish which is biting into a smaller blue fish. Around the whole composition, smaller blue fishes swarm looking for an opening to rip into the red fish. The background of the silhouette is black, illuminated by a light hanging from the largest blue fish

Bigger Fish

Samuel Turner

Tempera & Acrylic on Cardboard

When making this piece, I was overtaken by a fear of nuclear annihilation. Painting it helped me to process and understand my anxieties related to imperialism, human nature, and the futility of conflict. “Bigger Fish” depicts a mushroom cloud exploding into a violent feeding frenzy of abominable creatures. At the same time, the silhouette takes upon the appearance of a human profile. The fish are painted in the shape of a brain, representing an override of our baseline instincts in favor of animalistic, senseless violence. The largest fish tears into a smaller fish feasting on a yet smaller fish. It’s all an endless, pointless cycle of survival. I am most fearful that many are forgetting that cooperation is our most basic human instinct, not violence. But, perhaps, after mutually assured destruction, this is a snapshot of what will be left: a writhing mass of pure id.