“Not So Still Life”: Exhibition Concept

Cortney Lane Stell
Oct 14, 2014 6:09PM

From its roots in the wall decorations of antiquity to its resurgence in Pop Art, the still life has been established over the last century as a fundamental aspect of art history and the starting point of the formal education of many artists. Rooted firmly within a common vernacular, the still life is understood as a controlled and canonized area of artistic study. Contemporary artists who choose to work within this established tradition enter into a conversation with centuries of previous artists. In this exhibition a ‘still life’ takes an expanded sense, moving beyond the traditional understanding as a painting or drawing of an arrangement. For Not So Still Life, a still life is rather interpreted as a work of art that focuses on the halting or arresting of time as seen through objects that human perception can easily experience aging or changing.

Not So Still Life touches on artists’ ability to play with the concept of time and the distinction between illusion and reality, through the use of the still life genre. Also, because of its canonized position, many artists use the still life as a learning tool to hone formal skills such as composition and rendering form and texture. In our current age of uncertainty, art actualizes our struggle to make sense of the present, as time begins to move ever more rapidly around us. By using familiar and common objects as subjects, artists direct our attention to the stillness in suspended everyday moments, linking us to the larger conversation of tradition, while also grounding us in the present by depicting objects of today.

Not So Still Life also brings together artists that turn the traditional still life genre on its head by playing with pre-existing expectations - from unusual compositions of culturally specific objects, use of unconventional materials, to artworks that focus on the strangeness and potentiality of a paused moment. Rather than making still life works that are mere formal explorations or simply decorative, the artists included in the exhibition use the conventional notion of “still life” as a starting out point for experimentation

Cortney Lane Stell