CONTEMPORARY STILL LIFE
Olive Cotton, Marian Drew, Sarah Goffman, Madeleine Kelly, Rosalind Lemoh, Nigel Milsom, Jude Rae, Grace Cossington Smith, Ricky Swallow and Michael Zavros.
The still life genre is often defined as the depiction of inanimate objects for the sake of their formal qualities such as: line, shape, colour, texture, tone, form, space and depth. Traditionally explored through painting, still life subjects were often found objects from the artist’s everyday lives for instance flowers, fruit, animals and skulls.1 These subjects were immortalised in paint as their real-life counterparts decayed. In this sense, the still life genre reminded people about the brevity of life whilst also teaching artists their trade. The genre has been adapted and readapted through years of evolving artistic practice, but what is the relevance of still life in a contemporary context?
“Still Life somehow encompasses pretty much everything that artists keep returning to, issues of mortality, beauty, politics, religion, consumption etc… Still life is a genre that endures because it is still wholly relevant. It's timeless in an ironic way; that is to say the actual subjects are long decayed but the idea endures.” (Zavros, 2013)2
By revisiting this genre, contemporary artists expand the potential of still life to question, interpret and understand our world. Contemporary Still Life presentsworks that reflect on the traditional still life genre in surprising and playful ways. The artists blur and adapt the genre to suit new and personal contexts - expanding the dialogue through contemporary subject matter, medium and materials. Contemporary Still Life brings light and life to our perception of the everyday world around us and to a genre often perceived as stuffy or boring.
1 Eber-Schifferer. S, 1999, “Still Life: A History”, Harry N. Abrams, New York.
2 Oystermag, 2013, “Interview: Artist Michael Zavros”, 8 November 2013, Oystermag