Painted Birds on Pharmaceutical Boxes by Sara Landeta
The contrast between man-made and nature is often portrayed through artwork, but maybe not in a way that is as obvious as Sara Landeta’s birds painted on drug boxes.
Though Landeta has created numerous pieces in this series in the past, she has just produced a new batch which includes 120 new designs.
The boxes have been collected from patients who have used the drugs to overcome various illnesses – something that Landeta is keen to show in her work. Each box has been meticulously decorated with a bird and a natural scene, featuring trees, plants, and vibrant flowers.
Why birds? Because, according to Landeta, they are the only animal that give meaning to freedom. Birds are the only creature on the planet that are able to connect with the earth and the sky, but they are also one of the main types of animal that is kept in captivity. This adds an interesting spin on the notion of freedom, which Landeta plays on with her designs.
It is when these pictures of freedom, or the variety of bird species Sara Landeta uses, come together with the synthetic idea of drugs that the pieces really begin to take on meaning. “This juxtaposition of the natural and the synthetic interprets the patient as a captive animal,” says Landeta, adding that the bird acts a metaphor for this theory.
Sara Landeta relays the idea of the patient becoming the captured bird. “They are wanting to fly,” she says of the patients, going on to say that is the drugs that keep them alive; that help them overcome their illnesses so that they can become free again.
The inspiration for the pieces doesn’t just come from this idea of freedom, though. I fact, Landeta owes a lot to John James Audubon, a 19th-century artist who inspired this series.
Using the medicine boxes as her canvas allows Landeta to starkly show the contrast between the man-made world and the natural one, and how it is inextricably linked. She digs deep with her work to touch on the exterior versus interior debate, and plays heavily on the idea that for mankind to survive for any length of time, we must rely on nature, not the man-made pharmaceuticals that so many people need.
After gathering the boxes (all of which have been used and seen a previous life in the hands of their patients), Sara Landeta carefully crafts natural scenes on them once they have been opened out to create a canvas. She uses a wide variety of bird species, which shows the diversity of human life and the diversity of “weaknesses” we have as humans.
Landeta’s work, at first glance, seems like an innocent show of nature. Pretty scenes with birds and flowers show a positive vibe, but when you look closer and notice the canvas, they take on a whole new meaning – this is where the power lies in this series.
Enjoy the song “Contrail” by Kane Ikin while viewing the additional works below
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