Wednesday, January 16, 2013

From above

Strawberries from above. 12"×9", Oil on linen panel, July 2012

There is something strangely enticing for me in painting a still life "from above", inviting the viewer to take the painter's place:  standing at the easel, with the set-up close by, on a tabouret (like here), or even on the floor. 

It creates a natural dynamics in how the set-up is viewed, since I look at it at different angles when I am at the easel, actually making marks, and when I have taken a couple of steps back, to have a look at the painting from some distance. This varying perspective may be the reason why this approach is unusual for the genre of still life: it doesn't really afford the painter a chance to be true to life ("realistic") and go into what would be called "realistic" details at the same time: if you paint what you really see, you paint a moving target, a couple of its different views at the same time; if you want to go into a detailed representation, you are bound to paint rather what you are should see; what you might have seen if you weren't a human being, but some seeing device safely fixed in one position, unmovable.   

So what is painted here is not at all what you would have seen in a photo of strawberries; rather, it's what you see, almost without noticing, when you pass a table with strawberries on it on your way to the kitchen...  A fleeting moment in time caught on a small panel.   

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