For me a good still-life is like an entire play condensed into just a few seconds. Objects become actors, and tables and pedestals become stages. When the backdrop and walls vanish, the space between the “actors” blends with the ambient environment to create atmosphere and stories. These specific stories are steeped in the irony of wildlife that has been frozen in a taxidermic pose, and then staged in what could be its former home.
Taking inspiration from art history, this work combines aspects of Nature Morte paintings of the northern Renaissance, Neoclassical portraits, and Pictorialist photographs of the early 20th century. The goal is not to imitate these art styles from vastly different time periods, but to utilize characteristics of all three to provide a fertile ground for storytelling. The occasionally clinical appearance of subject matter in a typical Nature Morte mingles with the subject focused lighting of a neoclassical portrait, and the emotionality of the Pictorialist aesthetic to create the subtle, ambiguous vibration that is as perplexing as it is comforting.
Lighting the still-life arrangements as if they were still in a studio allows for a selective separation in tones that is reminiscent of the lighting seen in Neoclassical portraits. Since the work is usually done towards the first and last light of the day, the personalities of both subject and background are clearly seen using this technique. The shallow focus acts as a subliminal guide to subconsciously trigger thoughts of brush strokes in a painting, rather than an overt attempt to replicate them.
Together these technical aspects illuminate the relationships between the inanimate objects and the once animate. Some include hints of life lessons that we should have learned, while others exist to simply magnify the beauty in the world around us, as well as the tragedy in its demise.
Prints are available
There are "sketches" from the Nature Morte project that can be viewed here.