In looking at this subject through the lens of both classic and contemporary practice these artists have produced a new body of work for this exhibition that is Janus-faced - that is both, nodding to the past, whilst also subverting its classical boundaries of illusionistic detailed realism and hidden symbols. Through two distinct painting practices the same art historical subject of Still Life is revitalized for a contemporary audience.
Whilst Brian Henderson charges his carefully positioned objects with a sense of past and future through their formal interactions, he also develops an understanding of how light works through the use of combinations of natural and artificial light, and of opaque, transparent and reflective surfaces. In works that involve the miniature figurines of personalities as big as Sigmund Freud, appearing to examine a crushed Tunnocks Teacake, whilst a postcard-sized reproduction of a painting by his grandson Lucien Freud looks on, Henderson is clearly invoking, if not provoking, amusement and the question of legacy. These symbols (hardly hidden), bring the notion of the sub-conscious (and its everyday concerns) into the glaring light of day.
According to Art Review, the artist Chris Kettle has turned Still Life upon its head, by developing a new and subversive approach to the subject. His own practice does not seek to create modern antiquities, but rather aims at acknowledging and expanding upon, what Kettle has described as the human sensitivity and emotive charge that early Dutch painters possessed through their own practices. Kettle says:
My particular interest is to somehow let my instinct as a modern painter, naturally dictate these loose interpretations, hoping to capture something of the dramatic, and almost theatrical feel of paintings like ‘Festoon of Fruit and Flowers’ by Jan Davidsz.de Heem (1606- 1684) - with its groaning abundance of natural harvest ...
Kettle presents a group of studies and a further group of larger paintings for this show, which are inspired by the composition and drama of 17th & 18th Century painters like Jan Van Huysem; whilst admiring the incredible discipline and technique of these historical painters, he claims not to have attempted to follow or even match their technical prowess and refinement, instead his work aims at approaching Still Life anew, for the here and now.
Sponsored by Rinascimento Wines.