It is the sport of Kings, but Jaime Corum paints horses as if they themselves are the royal subjects.
Where once a portraitist would depict a monarch in a controlled studio setting, Corum honors the horse with the same reverent approach, imbuing them with a similar lofty dignity. In these portraits, the supple but powerful forms are carefully positioned and lit, placed against deliberately artificial backdrops such as the tapestry in “Amando and Onne”. Corum cites George Stubbs as a key influence, and she has the same formality, the same thorough and complete observation of anatomy, and the same romantic point-of-view of equine nobility.
Corum also paints thoroughbreds in action, but the formal portraits are easily the more distinctive work. She sees the considerable range of expression in these animals; the contrast of mass, power, and speed against the impossible delicacy of the limbs and the graceful, fluid movement. For centuries the horse has worked for us, taken us into battle, and occupied the center of a multi-million dollar sporting industry.
The horse has also played a crucial role in culture, figuring prominently in human mythology and poetry. Symbolic of the force and beauty that are its natural attributes, it carries death, plague, pestilence - but also hope, purity, redemption in equal measure. They occupy our dreams and bear witness to our history:
The black horse crooks his
forelegs, the hills split open,
his nostrils pour flame.
Snort, snort through miles,
O charger, through rock.
From The Black Horse Rider - by Pierre Loving
For the White Horse knew England
When there was none to know;
He saw the first oar break or bend,
He saw heaven fall and the world end,
O God, how long ago.
From The Ballad Of The White Horse - by G. K. Chesterton
Can any other animal claim as much symbolic importance in humanity’s understanding of itself? Corum, of course, is not alone in this understanding, but the manner in which her work locates a distinctly continental tradition in equine imagery exemplifies this idea without resorting to kitsch, and she shows restraint in her embrace of sentimentality. She sees the horse for what it is, and while companionship is recognized as vital, her horses resist precociousness.
Jaime Corum is based in Louisville, Kentucky. Her equine art is inspired and refined by her own experience with horses, especially her own horse Chesapeake. She is currently exhibiting in Poetry in Motion: The Equine Art of Jaime Corum and Richard Sullivan at The Brown Hotel through July 1, 2018
Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2018 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.