In recent years the propagation of the still life genre has blossomed as artists continue to recast, renew, and subvert past doctrines of art and composition. Traditionally a genre that encouraged slow and steady reflection, still life painting has come into vogue for its ability to pair the common with the uncommon. This exhibition emphasizes artists who nod to the accomplishments of past masters while actively pursuing the field with a force of vision and technical prowess unique to contemporary painting.
Trained in Russia at the Ilya Repin Institute of Painting, Olga Antonova carefully selects antique kettles, ladles, and porcelain cups, depicting them in isolation at the center of her compositions. By elevating the worn yet cherished objects, these paintings become a memorial to another age.
Daniel E. Greene, the most senior artist in the exhibition at 84 years old, is included in over 700 collections and was recently the focus of a large-scale retrospective at the Butler Institute of American Art in Ohio. Greene is celebrated for his grand pastels and oil paintings, favoring portrayals of classic games-of-chance and skill, as well as backgrounds of elaborate fabrics and tapestries that compete for attention with the equally exquisite subjects in the foreground.
Samuel Hung’s oil paintings on panel glow with rich, liquid surfaces. Born in Taiwan in 1981, Hung gravitates to ephemera from Japanese and American pop culture and consumerism. His intimate paintings parade rubber ducks with creative doppelgangers, offering a humorous reinvention of the commonplace objects.
At once hilarious and pointed, the playful compositions by Robert C. Jackson parody the plainest of events with an elevated degree of wit. His signature soda crates provide the stage for a cast of characters, including tempting desserts or vintage toys, offered in pairings and accentuated by excess.
Notable among this selection is newcomer Elizabeth McGhee. The young California-based painter employs humor and puns in pairing her objects sometimes in the interest of addressing serious or confrontational themes. This is her first show in New York.
Janet Rickus’ still life arrangements are often inspired by human relationships. After hand picking her subjects from the farmer’s market or a friend’s china cabinet, she meticulously composes an
Steve Smulka world projects a purity and quiet that is unmistakable. Smulka depicts glass bottles that are keenly cropped to shift focus to unexpected shapes and profiles. Capturing glass is akin to capturing the ephemeral – the beauty of these objects relies on the convergence of light and setting.
In contrast, much of Eric Wert’s oeuvre scarcely contains the wild energy of the toppling florals and vegetables they portray. Within extravagant compositions Wert weaves art historical references that include medieval tapestry and turn of the century textiles by William Morris.
Will Wilson’s luscious canvases satirize outrageous and sometimes fantastic stories. These canvases are layered with objects rife with symbolism that act as both the prop and stage where his critters perform. His paintings are welcome worlds of lavish fiction that are sought by serious collections, including the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery.