All Coherence Gone? Historical currents in contemporary still life.
Curated by Frances Woodley at BayArt 20.09.2014 – 17.10.2014
A visit to BayArt on Saturday afternoon, 11th October. It was lovely to see Frances again, my contextual studies tutor for my B.A., and the exhibition was a delight. Some pieces were humorous, some thought provoking, some obvious, some cryptic but none bland.
Still life painting have always depicted more than just objects randomly displayed on some sort of support. Reference has been made to classical works, using traditional materials and techniques alongside digital images printed on plastics but all the art comes back to the 21st century.
Emma Bennett Thief of Time, 2012, Oil on Canvas, 140 x 110cm
Clare Chapman. Unfortunately there are no details about the work on Clare’s website that I can find.
Kenne Grégoire. 2013 Goedemorgen -125 x 90 cm – acrylic
Jacco Hinke Schouten Abstract Concha (30/40 Edition of 10) 22/05/14 Mixed Media 30 x 40 centimeters
Heather James Reveal 2011 102cm x 102cm x 4cm
Margriet Smulders Living in Lillies ciclé-print on watercolor paper 2014
Krista van der Niet Rhubarb (photography)
Dawn Woolley Blancmange c type print
Alan Salisbury Still Life with reference to fruit and flowers. A transcription of a detail from an early 16th century painting by Isaak Soreau.
The follow extract has been taken from BayArt website.
‘This exhibition promotes an idea of several interwoven conversations across time and space, present and past. These conversations take place between artists and objects, objects and objects, and between a curator and artists of two nations, the Netherlands and the UK. The conversations are about still life, a modest genre with a magnificent history, and how its historical origins in seventeenth century Dutch painting enfold and flow through contemporary practices of painting and photography today.
In his poem Anatomy of the World written in 1611, John Donne lamented: ‘Tis all in pieces, all coherence gone’. A medieval world picture, in which everything had had its allotted place, was unraveling in the face of newly emergent scientific understandings of nature and the cosmos. Still life painting emerged in the Netherlands at much the same time and came to act as a million fabulous mirrors to the material excess, and accompanying doubts, of that age. Fruit, fish, dead game, cheese mountains, gilded tableware, eccentric glassware, baskets and damask, pastries of every description, not to mention tulips, crown imperials, peonies, hyacinths, beetles and butterflies, were just some of the many things that were crammed, tipped and spilt, in these intimate, domestic paintings. These still lifes, however, were, and are, more than the objects and values they depict: they are little stages, private worlds, microcosmic universes, into which their creators and their owners could lose themselves in miracles of vision.
Today many a museum visitor glides past these paintings, bored or bemused by the modesty or profusion of a Velvet Brueghel, a Floris van Dijk or a Clara Peeters. And yet, these paintings opened the way to some of the most daring advances in painting, photography, advertising, video art and installation of recent times.
This exhibition, however, does not set out to uncover origins or track historical progress. Instead, it explores how some contemporary artists have sought to interpret, embrace, and transform seventeenth century still life traditions through forms of creative dialogue. These conversations with history are worked out through strategies of confrontation, interpretation, mediation, reference, inference, parody, play, voyeurism, suggestion or memory. They are also often critical. Today still life is being explored in fusions and fissions of all sorts of techniques and technologies, contexts and meanings, old and new.
The artworks in the exhibition, whether they go by the name of still life or not, are likewise the mirrors of our time. The objects, ephemera and possessions reflected in them are the evidence of our excesses, obsessions and concerns now. Yet in each individual reflection the uneasy and ambivalent preoccupations of their predecessors are beamed back to us. And, it is often through the same particular qualities – the contrasts of bloom and sheen, the visceral and fractured, the indeterminate and the specific, the fold and flatness, light and its dulling and absence, that the language of still life remains recognizable and distinctive across time.’