The Natural History series

The natural history of most species is usually decontextualized. We are not always aware of the complex interactions that govern nature’s habitats and ecosystems. Biodiversity, trophic interaction, extinction or keystone species decline are commonly understood within the realm of science. These concepts rarely break through to a collective consciousness. This ‘Natural History’ series approaches the concept of scale in large organisms to challenge human perceptions of physicality and space.

The two-dimensional life size representations are intended to bring the physical reality of the depicted species to the viewer’s attention; by contextualizing the animal within the daily human environment. They invite awareness to–in the words of poet and naturalist David Whyte–“the geography of the body and its conversation with the world.”

Physeter macrocephalus, 2011 (above left), preparatory drawing for Sphyrna mokarran, 2011 (above right).

Physeter macrocephalus, or the whale

This installation from 2011 is a painting composition on 971 A4 pieces of paper. It depicts a life-size sperm whale. It was exhibited in the Portico of the University College of London, as part of the 2011 Slade Degree Show.

Carcharias taurus, 2010 (top): 3.5 meters long Sand Tiger Shark, composed of 52 A4 pieces of paper.

Prionace glauca, 2009 (bottom): 2.1 meters long Blue Shark, covering 18 A4 pieces of paper.

Alejandro Cano · Doctor Cato

Manta birostris, 2011 (left): Life-size, double-sided, two-dimensional representation of a Manta Ray from 2011. A composition of 290 A4 pieces of paper.

(right) Two preparatory drawings of the dorsal and ventral views of a            manta ray, and three photographs of the installation during the 2011 Slade Degree Show.

Architeuthis dux

A life size drawing of a giant squid (above) kept at the Museo Nacional de Ciencias Naturales in Madrid.

It is an ink drawing from 2005, done in different strips of recycled paper.

(below left) Quick sketch. (below right) Life size depiction of the internal anatomy of the giant squid, composed of 19 pieces of A4 paper.

Collosal / Giant Squid drawings

Mola mola

Life size painting from 2012 of an Ocean Sun Fish. It is a composition of 53 A4 units of paper. The size of the work is 2 x 2.5 meters.

Alejandro Cano · Doctor Cato

Cetorhinus maximus

This sculptural painting from 2010 represents the confluence of two work series: the ‘Natural History’ series and ‘Los Cachos’.

The two distal portions of the fish that are represented emphasize the importance of the missing section. The large size of the painting, more than 8 meters long, dramatizes the fragmentation. The void in the middle invites viewers to imagine the reconstruction of the whole. This work references the waste product discarded during seafood processing.

Cetorhinus maximus · Basking shark