April 19th, 2011
I tend to post still lives quite a bit on this site. There’s something about the matter-of-fact is-ness of carefully selected, arranged and represented objects that’s just grounding and comforting for me to look at & meditate upon. Like many of us I’m sure, I’m a bit bored of the standard still life subject matter — bouquets, fruit, rumpled tablecloths — but that said, the right artist can enliven even the most over-exposed subject matter through mood, technique, lighting, color, and infinite combinations of tools at his or her disposal.
Here we have a still life that’s standard in some ways — straightforward angle, perspective, lighting, mimetic coloration & rendering — but to me unusual in its details. First, I’m not a still life expert, but I’m not used to seeing smoking accessories, fishies and oysters dominating a still life — there’s a preponderant sharp & pungent element in all these consumables that strikes me as delightfully odd. But what really catches my eye here is the lovely buttery-bronze coloration picked up by nearly every element of the painting, from the herring to the oysters to the clay-like tobacco (?) urnlet to the snuff-box (?)’s nubby gold detail to that absolutely perfect cleft dinner roll. The table and walls too add color depth while remaining kin to the soft butter glow.
I could linger over this painting for ages just taking in details and relaxing bit by bit while doing so: the liquid reflection of the oysters on the silver plate in the foreground, the oyster shell’s knobbiness, the way the pipe’s angle meets the shadow’s line, carving out this triangle of light that’s mirrored by the bright bottom left wedge-area formed by the bread and the sardines. Everything feels in harmony and repose, true savor for the gaze before the meal begins.
For more information about Floris van Schooten, and examples of his work, check out his wiki page and also his friendsofart.net page.
All writing © copyright C. Way / Snailcrow.com 2011