Paintings by Eric Vanasse: Elk and young girl in canoe

All images courtesy of Eric Vanasse/UGallery

In the "Losing Paradise" series, Canadian artist Eric Vanasse speculates on the figurative long-term consequences of climate change and habitat destruction. The thought-provoking collection of paintings pose important questions regarding the fate of our planet and the people and animals that live there.Portrait of Eric Vanasse

Vanasse features his work on UGallery, where interested art collectors are welcome to purchase pieces or commission a custom work.

"Sometimes complex messages are best told visually," said Alex Farkas, gallery director and co-founder of UGallery. "This is why art is such a powerful medium. By nature, each piece and its intended meaning is open for interpretation, offering the opportunity to not just react, but also reflect. Eric’s work is challenging people to think, and we’re proud to feature such a thoughtful collection on UGallery.com."

Continue below to see more images of this series, as well as an interview with the artist.

 
Paintings by Eric Vanasse: Young boy and polar bear

MNN: Tell us a little about your background and path to becoming an artist.

Eric Vanasse: I gained a unique perspective in art by doing a university degree in art history and by working for 15 years in a museum where I was managing a vast encyclopedic collection. I gained my knowledge and painting skills by studying rigorously under American and European classically trained artists.

The rest of my education was mostly self-taught by studying the works of masters from the renaissance to today. My studies and work experience allowed me to merge the rich traditions of the past, the scientific knowledge of the last decades and a contemporary spontaneity that gives a breath of life to my paintings.

How would you describe your style of art?

While being mostly figurative, my style is in the continuity of the fine art tradition. My treatment, brushwork and  subject matter however are very contemporary.

 
Paintings by Eric Vanasse: Elephant in the hall with young girl

What are you trying to say with this series of paintings?
I place threatened animals in a completely unnatural environment to illustrate the drama of their disappearing natural habitat. To bring a some hopefulness, I include children who may do better with these animals and their environment than previous generations have.

What's the significance of pairing the threatened animals with the young children?

Children will inherit the environmental problems that older generations have bequeathed them. It will be up to them to find solutions and deal with the remaining animals. While being helpless for dealing with such a global issue, children's general interest and kindness toward animals may help viewers see the desperate need that these animal have to have their environment preserved.

 
Paintings by Eric Vanasse: Child and walrus

Why is art important in environmental conservation work?

Art is a special channel to people's emotions and thoughts. In the age where everything is digital and video clips are replacing still images, I believe that well-composed and executed artworks can encourage people to pause and reflect. The subject of our environment and the habitat of threatened animals is one where such reflection is critical.

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Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.