The fascinating legacy that still life has left and the many ways in which contemporary artists are interpreting and reinterpreting the genre is the focus of a new collective art exhibition which opened at Artual Gallery
in Downtown Beirut on August 14th.
Titled Still Looking: A Still Life Show, the exhibition has been curated by the Brooklyn-based painter Jonathan Chapline and runs until Thursday September 12, 2019. Chaplines work also features in the show, along with contributions from seven other artists, namely: Jules de Balincourt; Melissa Brown; Amy Lincoln; Nikki Maloof; Cynthia Talmadge; Paul Wackers; and Robin F. Williams.
In the work displayed, each artist uses their individual style to explore the still life theme, while also acknowledging the genres rich history and impact on visual arts over the centuries.
De Balincourts paintings of meticulously placed tools are given an added dimension by the unsettling presence of an anonymous figure, while Brown uses kitsch and cultural American signifiers to create tension. Both Wackers and Williams focus on texture and color in their treatment of inanimate objects, while Lincoln chooses natures flora as her subject, both indoors and outdoors, and Maloof captures specific moments of creatures within a familiar domestic environment. In contrast, Talmadge creates large-scale spaces populated with out-of-place items, using sand and craft material, while Chapline translates 16th century Dutch still life through a digital lens, inserting new objects into the compositions in the process.
Commenting after the opening, Chapline highlighted still lifes rich and varied history, which can be traced back centuries to the Egyptian, Greek and Roman periods, before hitting its heyday in the Dutch and Flemish Golden Age, when it played a key role in conveying ideas of luxury, trade and status.
Later, in the 20th century, it was used as a vehicle to highlight color, mark-making and space with the advent of cubism, abstraction, and surrealism, he said. This show recontextualizes and gives new meaning to each work, charging the ideas and morphing the meaning behind them as the work travels from New York to Beirut.
Artual Gallerys Founder, Hind Ahmad, said she was delighted to be presenting a collective exhibition which was significant on so many levels.
Still life has made a fascinating journey over the centuries, with opinion and treatment of the genre changing to reflect the times of the long list of artists who decided to depict inanimate objects in their work, from Caravaggio, Vermeer and Van Gogh to Picasso and Andy Warhol, she said. Im delighted that Jonathan has chosen to shine the spotlight on this important art form, while giving these exciting and talented contemporary artists a well-deserved platform here at Artual.