SUMPTUOUS STILL LIFE SERIES
Materials: Hand sculptured cake objects and sugar details
Photographs are final products.
Titles: (First 3 images: "Le Rêve") (Images 4-6: "The Good Life Guide") (Final 4 images: "Eye Love You: LV")
These series of still life compositions, and their final photographs, combine the composition and symbolism of Dutch still life painting with contemporary symbols of luxury and luxurious lifestyles. The products within my compositions range from designer handbags to vintage wines and Cuban cigars. Cakes and sugar sweets are highly desirable, and like the products I portray in this series, they are often confused for necessity instead of an unnecessary luxury.
Dutch still life painting of the 17th century contains a myriad of hidden meanings and morals about the temporality of life and the consequences of sinful living. My current work has been inspired by “banquet pieces” of such artists as Willem Claesz. Heda and Abraham van Beyeren. In addition to the spectacular visual quality of such paintings, I have been intrigued by contemporary interpretations of Dutch still life such as Norman Bryson’s book, "Looking at the Overlooked: Four Essays on Still Life Painting". His essay on “Abundance” is particularly insightful on the themes of vanitas and symbolism in banquet piece paintings. He talks about the disorderly presentation of the objects (half-eaten food, overturned plates, crumpled tablecloths) as signs “of a household losing its moral grip”. Bryson and other writers support that these paintings were displays of wealth, and that even the fruit, which we may interpret today as a staple, was an imported luxury in 17th c. Netherlands.
The moral dilemma’s that plagued many painters of the 17th c. Netherlands can be comparatively applied to today’s social concerns. The industrialized countries live amidst great wealth and opportunity adjacent to immense poverty and despair. The discrepancy between want and need has become blurred as our appetites increase. I question and ponder these dilemmas but accept that I am not outside of the issue. Just as the most moralizing of Dutch paintings are in and of themselves indulgences, commodities to be purchased for visual ingestion and pleasure, so too is my work a willing player in the art market. My work addresses this inherent contradiction, hating what it loves and loving what it hates in a world filled with contradictions.