Franko B, Tony Carter, Gordon Cheung, Oliver Clegg, Brian Griffiths,
Anne Hardy, Dan Hays, Michael Landy, Alastair Mackie, Robin Mason,
Hugh Mendes, Lisa Milroy, Boo Ritson, Amikam Toren.
'Still Life, Still' features the work of 14 contemporary artists in a time-honoured genre, and proposes that the still life, despite its reticence, remains extremely relevant to contemporary art and that the genre still has the power to address questions of meaning by providing a platform to reflect upon the human condition. Traditionally, we think of the objects in still life as windows into the customs and ideas of their time; but they also confront death head-on, and a contemporary still life has the ability to express present-day religious and philosophical ideas. Meditation on inanimate objects, as presented through the sensibilities of the artist, can communicate a profound sense of stillness, as if their depiction had frozen time. The history of still life has, of course, provided some of the greatest pleasures and offered some of the most profound meditations on mortality in the history of art, from Caravaggio to Chardin, Cezanne, or for Cubists Picasso and Braque. Duchamp's readymade, the repositioning of an everyday object, has had an immeasurable effect on contemporary culture.
When Michael Landy followed his notorious 'Breakdown' performance (during which he publicly destroyed all his personal property) with etchings of weeds, it was perhaps surprising. An almost brutal existentialism was followed with the delicacy and precision of his etchings (of the overlooked, unwanted and discarded). Lisa Milroy and Tony Carter describe themselves, and perhaps are best known, as 'still life' artists. They provide a backdrop in relation to the painted object and the object itself, unmediated. Whereas Franko B, best known for his performance work, has produced beautiful and poignant photos of the detritus of homeless people around Waterloo, creating 'found' still lifes. Amikam Toren deconstructs and represents objects, in series that take place over years. Perhaps the thing that all these artists have in common is the level of precision in the execution of their ideas.
Featuring painting, photography, sculpture and printmaking, 'Still Life, Still' will offer a wide-ranging perspective, through a traditional lens, on contemporary mores and aspirations.
Hugh Mendes (2007)