In his canvas Faith and Fate, painter Dimitri Sirenko asks viewers to interpret a powerful scene from nature. The oil painting shows a seal sitting on the shore, looking directly into the eyes of a killer whale who is seemingly about to be beached. But in reality, this orca is on the hunt and the innocent seal is directly in harm's way. How the scene ends is for us to decide.
Nature is a recurring theme in Sirenko's art and one day, while in his studio, he remembered reading about killer whales who beached themselves in order to hunt. Looking into it further, he came across a few documentaries that discussed this phenomenon. This included the BBC's Trials of Life by Sir David Attenborough. In the footage, we see how the orcas are willing to risk it all for the chance at a great meal and how the seals often underestimate the grave danger that they are in.
It's this tension that Sirenko draws from in the skillfully painted piece. As the killer whale crashes through the wave, we see light filtering through the water. This light seems to beam onto the seal, visually pointing us in the direction of what's to occur. To maximize the tension, Sirenko gives us a spectacular moment of anticipation. Is it the seal who has faith that it will survive? Or the killer whale who has faith that it will return to the waters after beaching itself? And whose fate is really sealed?
By leaving the ending open to interpretation, Sirenko asks us to fill in the blanks. “The painting shows this almost inevitable scenario—it looks like the seal will most likely not survive,” he tells My Modern Met. “But it doesn’t show the outcome. The outcome of this scenario is in each person’s hands and minds. I hope that people can overcome their obstacles no matter how difficult or impossible they may seem. I wish that people do not lose hope and do not lose faith even if things seem like they are fated.”
Sirenko sells prints, as well as commissioned reproductions of Faith and Fate on his website.