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Environmental Horror


Untitled, from Oil Can series, 1979. Polaroid print.





War without End, 1981. Acrylic on paper.



In 1972, Fichter returned to his home state to take a teaching position at Florida State University, where he remained until his retirement in 2006. Having grown up during a time of unparalleled real estate expansion in Florida, he was troubled by the effects of overdevelopment on the natural environment. Fichter’s anxieties about his personal impact on pollution even led him to give up photography for a time because the chemical waste produced by the medium “seemed ecologically incorrect.” Instead, he turned to painting in a Neo-expressionistic style influenced by the dark social commentary of Spanish Romantic painter Francisco Goya and British Satirist William Hogarth.

Fichter’s horror surrounding ecological devastation is expressed frequently in his work, where the landscape is variously represented in a state of primordial abundance, dappled by disease, or as a post-nuclear desert. Oil cans figure prominently as symbols of pollution, and taxidermy animals are reanimated as macabre harbingers of an apocalyptic future. Fichter’s wary view of humankind’s custodianship of the planet is a call to action especially fitting for the age of the Anthropocene, a term used to describe the current geological epoch in which human activity holds the dominant impact on Earth’s environment and climate.