Dual Shows in Boston Pair Dense Still Lifes with the Accoutrements of an Artist’s Studio

To kick off the fall season and celebrate 40 years in business, Gallery NAGA in Boston is showcasing the work of two artists in dual exhibitions: “Socks Shoes Soldiers and Such: A Studio Recreation” by Ken Beck and “Recent New Paintings” by Harold Reddicliffe. Both painters concern themselves with the history of still life, though they carry its traditions to different ends.

Like many artists, Beck surrounds himself with objects and images of inspiration. The assortment of humble items includes a pair of tie-dyed socks, a paint-spattered hat, and all sorts of shoes, many of which appear in his paintings.

  • Image courtesy of Gallery NAGA.

    Image courtesy of Gallery NAGA.

For his latest show, Beck allowed the gallery to empty out a portion of his studio and install the contents alongside his paintings. An array of paintbrushes, tools, sketches, magazine covers, old photographs, and driftwood helps inform and illuminate paintings such as Big Socks (2016), a quiet work featuring a pair of thick, multicolored socks (the real pair hangs nearby). The suspended socks recall fowl and other hunted game rendered in sharp detail à la Dutch Renaissance still lifes.

For his first solo show with the gallery, Reddicliffe offers a wide-ranging selection of his precisely painted still lifes. Mostly small in scale, they feature dense arrangements of various objects, from a rainbow-striped umbrella to kitchenware to old engines. Reddicliffe is inspired not only by these assorted textures, colors, and forms, but also by the composition of Japanese woodblock prints, which he has collected for more than 30 years.

His glistening 45 Objects (2016) features a tightly packed vision of 45 disparate items, including shiny spheres, a bright yellow propeller, and a red-and-black lacquered bowl. Together, these and other objects form a detailed tableau that hovers alluringly between abstraction and representation.


—Karen Kedmey


Ken Beck: Socks Shoes Soldiers and Such: A Studio Recreation” and “Harold Reddicliffe: Recent New Paintings” are on view at Gallery Naga, Boston, Sept. 6–Oct. 1, 2016.

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