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BEYOND REAL: STILL LIFE IN THE 21ST CENTURY Miles C. Horton Jr. Gallery, Sherwood Payne Quillen ’71 Reception Gallery September 3–November 15, 2015 GERRY BANNAN

JENNIFER L. HAND

TIM O’KANE

ORI GERSHT

LAURA LETINSKY

AGNIET SNOEP

DAVID HALLIDAY


The still life tradition has been a constant throughout the ages as artists have sought to not merely portray and capture the essence of everyday objects, but to metaphorically address a range of topics from the nature of art to the fleeting nature of existence. Often associated with Dutch and Flemish painting of the 16th and 17th centuries, the genre traditionally featured sumptuous tabletop compositions of flowers, ripe fruit, vegetables, seafood, meats, and other objects to portray the beauty of life and its abundance, but also its transience in the face of its inevitable end. Beauty, but also death, decay, and the passage of time are underlying themes in works that may appear straightforward and simple, but are in reality quite complex. The lush, exquisitely rendered fruit and flower arrangements of the Dutch artists Jan van Huysum (1682–1749) or Jan Breughel the Elder (1568– 1625) are classic examples of this time-honored genre.

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Ori Gersht

Agniet Snoep

Still images: Falling Bird, 2008

Calla, 2011

Video installation with sound

Archival digital print on aluminum

Dimensions variable

Artist proof

Duration: 5 minutes, 53 seconds

23.7 x 35.4 inches

Courtesy of the artist and CRG Gallery, New York

Courtesy of the artist, Amsterdam

© Ori Gersht

© Agniet Snoep


Juxtaposing tradition with innovation, this exhibition presents outstanding works of painting, photography, and video by artists from Israel, Holland, Canada, and the United States who build on, respond to, and transform the still life tradition through the lens of the 21st century, with results that are a sensual feast for the eyes, but are also intriguing, thoughtful, and at times startling. Tim O’Kane (Charlottesville, Virginia) paints meticulously rendered still lifes in oil on panel and wood block poised against spare backgrounds, heightening the perception of the beauty and essence of ordinary objects. “I came to realize the potential of ordinary objects,” he states. “The enigmatic qualities of existence contained in the mundane. This is what Paul Cezanne and Giorgio Morandi had grappled with; what brings such an air of dignity to their simple subjects.” Likewise, New Orleans artist David Halliday carefully composes fruits, vegetables, and food items set against minimal backgrounds in digital photographs that call attention to the serene beauty and delight of everyday edibles. Trained as a chef, he brings a formal compositional rigor to his exploration of the genre. Set against subdued washes of gray, beige, and aqua, Halliday transforms commonplace delectables into serene meditations in moments that seem frozen in time. Bridging centuries of tradition, Agniet Snoep (Dutch, based in Amsterdam) also works with digital photography in stunning, almost visceral still lifes. Vividly colored and dramatically lit against dark backgrounds, her works focus on a spare selection of traditional still life subjects—flowers, shells, insects, and sea creatures—but renders them in sharp focus with such hyperreal detail that they become, provocative, strange, even otherworldly. Seductive and extraordinarily beautiful, these images are nonetheless unflinching in conveying the stark and inevitable reality of life and death. In another twist on the still life genre Laura Letinksy creates large-format, almost elegiac photographic images that portray the aftermaths of meals— deserted dinner tables with stained tablecloths, overturned spoons, cups, plates, and napkins precariously poised at the table’s edge. Bathed in expanses of muted white and gray tones, these works are studies of absence that imply lost narratives and quietly contemplate what’s left behind. In an innovative approach to the medium, Letinsky (Canadian, based in Chicago) incorporates paper cutouts from lifestyle and food magazines, as well as fragments of her own photographs in collaged compositions that she then re-photographs. With subtle shifts in scale and perception, these elegant works hint at impermanence, moments ending, remembrance, and time passing.

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David Halliday

Laura Letinsky

Parmesan and Tomatoes, 2007 Archival pigment print

Untitled #4, from the series Ill Form and Void Full, 2010

11 x 14 inches

Archival pigment print

Courtesy of the artist and Arthur Roger Gallery, New Orleans, LA

39 x 48 inches

© David Halliday

Courtesy of the Artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery © Laura Letinsky


Ori Gersht (Israeli born, London based) draws inspiration from—but radically transforms—the still life tradition in this selection of three photographs and his video installation, Falling Bird, 2008. Inspired by an 18th century French still life by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin (1699–1779), Gersht employs digital technology in Falling Bird to portray a pheasant plummeting in slow motion into a watery void. In this stunning work, Gersht brings the still life tradition into the digital age in a beautiful, but unsettling commentary about beauty, rupture, and violence. Likewise, three photographs in the exhibition also draw from the art historical canon. Based on a still life painting by the 17th-century Dutch painter Jan Brueghel the Elder, the exploding imagery in these works brings the vulnerability of life into acute focus while alluding to violence and political upheaval. Gerry Bannan (United States, based in Roanoke, Virginia) also sources European Old Master paintings and prints in still lifes that, informed by the engravings of Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528) and Dutch Baroque masters, re-draw the still life tradition with ballpoint pens on expansive sheets of Mylar. In these contemporary re-imaginings of the memento mori or vanitas tradition, intricately drawn bones, vines, shells, and flowers allude to the transient nature of life and the inevitability of death and decay. Combining sculpture with digital imagery, Jennifer L. Hand (United States, based in Dublin, Virginia) extends the format and content of the still life genre in a poetic exploration of the present moment. Embedded in columnar structures, delicate drawings and streams of video images capture intimate moments and the simple quiet of everyday activities. Thoughtful and tender, these works are a meditation on time and the beauty of life. The subject matter in this exhibition is representational, it’s rendered realistically. But depiction in the art here goes beyond the real as the artists capture frozen, if not seemingly eternal moments while commenting on the fleeting nature of existence and other issues that can be profound. At once sensual, contemplative, and poetic, and, at times venturing into new approaches to the still life genre, the art in this exhibition re-invigorates the tradition established centuries ago, calling our attention to the beauty of life, but also its excruciating vulnerability. Margo Ann Crutchfield Curator at Large For information on events related to Beyond Real, including artist talks and gallery talks, please visit www.artscenter.vt.edu. Top

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Gerry Bannan

Tim O’Kane

The Way of All Flesh, 2013

Market Eggplants in a Hanging Basket, 2010

Ballpoint pen on Mylar

Oil on panel

20 x 72 inches

24 ½ x 15 inches

Collection of the artist

Private collection, Richmond, VA

© Gerry Bannan

© Tim O’Kane


Works in the Exhibition Gerry Bannan

David Halliday (continued)

All works courtesy of the artist © Gerry Bannan

Kohlrabi and Cucumbers, 2013 Archival pigment print 30 x 37 ½ inches

Requiem: Remember Not to Forget, 2014 Ballpoint pen on Mylar 20 x 72 inches The Way of All Flesh, 2013 Ballpoint pen on Mylar 20 x 72 inches Ori Gersht All works courtesy of the artist and CRG Gallery, New York © Ori Gersht On Reflection, Material EO6 (After J. Brueghel the Elder), 2014 Archival ink print mounted on Dibond Edition 1/6 60 ¼ x 48 inches On Reflection, Material E11 (After J. Brueghel the Elder), 2014 Archival ink print mounted on Dibond Edition 5/6 60 x 49 inches On Reflection, Virtual B02, 2014 Archival ink print mounted on Dibond Edition 3/6 40 ¼ x 34 ½ inches Falling Bird, 2008 Video installation with sound Dimensions variable Duration: 5 minutes, 53 seconds David Halliday All works courtesy of the artist and Arthur Roger Gallery, New Orleans, LA © David Halliday Pomegranate, 2013 Archival pigment print 20 x 27 ¼ inches Fish on Blue, 2013 Archival pigment print 30 x 54 inches

Zucchini and Tangerines, 2007 Archival pigment print 11 x 14 inches Parmesan and Tomatoes, 2007 Archival pigment print 11 x 14 inches Moonsnails, 2007 Archival pigment print 14 x 18 inches Eggs and Sausage, 2007 Archival pigment print 11 x 14 inches Carrots, 2007 Archival pigment print 14 x 18 inches

Jennifer L. Hand This Transitory Life II (Present), 2015 Wood, gesso, graphite, oak leaves, thread, video 84 x 15 inches Courtesy of the artist © Jennifer L. Hand

Laura Letinsky (continued) Untitled #31, from the series Ill Form and Void Full, 2011 Archival pigment print 44.4 x 53 inches

All works courtesy of the artist

Untitled #18, from the series Ill Form and Void Full, 2011 Archival pigment print 43.9 x 53 inches

This Transitory Life I (Past), 2015 Wood, gesso, graphite, fabric, thread, video 84 x 15 inches

Untitled #16, from the series Ill Form and Void Full, 2011 Archival pigment print 48.5 x 39.3 inches

This Transitory Life II (Present), 2015 Wood, gesso, graphite, oak leaves, thread, video 84 x 15 inches Courtesy of the artist

Untitled #4, from the series Ill Form and Void Full, 2010 Archival pigment print 39 x 48 inches

This Transitory Life III (Future), 2015 Wood, gesso, graphite, stone, thread, video 84 x 15 inches

Tim O’Kane

Jennifer L. Hand

Laura Letinsky All works courtesy of the artist and Yancey Richardson Gallery © Laura Letinsky Untitled #40, from the series Ill Form and Void Full, 2013 Archival pigment print 47 x 58 inches

Flame Eggplants & Sieve, 2013 Oil on panel 20 x 20 inches Collection of the artist Courtesy of Haley Fine Art, Sperryville, VA Box #24/One Between Two, 2012 Oil on 1-inch wood block 11 1/8 x 8 ½ inches Collection of the artist Red & White/Six Peppers, 2012 Oil on panel 20 x 20 inches Courtesy of Page Bond Gallery, Richmond, VA Tim O’Kane (continued)


Eggshells/Arrangement #2, 2012 Oil on 1-inch wood block 11 ½ x 8 ½ inches Private collection, Richmond, VA Market Eggplants in a Hanging Basket, 2010 Oil on panel 24 ½ x 15 inches Private collection, Richmond, VA 11 White Eggplants, 2010 Oil on 1” wood block 11 ½ x 7 inches Collection of Kristina and Charles Griffith, Norfolk, VA Eggplants & Italian Plate, 2009 Oil on panel 10 x 12 inches Collection of Martee Johnson, Charlottesville, VA Eggplant Siesta, 2007 Oil on board 11 ¼ x 15 ¼ inches Collection of Pamela K. and William A. Royall Jr., Richmond, VA Melanzane, 2007 Oil on panel 19 ¼ x 16 inches Collection of J. Ashley Harper, Virginia Spring Turnips, 2006 Oil on board 16 x 12 inches Collection of J. Ashley Harper, Virginia Hotel Interior #2/Blood Orange, 2006 Oil on board 13 ½ x 14 ½ inches Private collection, Albemarle County, VA

Agniet Snoep

© Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech 2015

All works courtesy of the artist Calla, 2011 Archival digital print on aluminum Artist proof 23.7 x 35.4 inches Octopus II, 2011 Archival digital print on aluminum Artist proof Grasshopper, 2011 Archival digital print on aluminum Artist proof 23.7 x 35.4 inches Prawn, 2011 Archival digital print on aluminum Artist proof 23.7 x 35.4 inches Roman Cauliflower, 2011 Archival digital print on aluminum Artist proof 23.7 x 35.4 inches Rotten Fig, 2011 Archival digital print on aluminum Artist proof 23.7 x 35.4 inches Nautilus Shell, 2010 Archival digital print on aluminum Artist proof 23.7 x 35.4 inches Dahlia, 2010 Archival digital print on aluminum 23.7 x 35.4 inches

Also on view Philip Taaffe September 3–November 15, 2015 Ruth C. Horton Gallery Stephen Vitiello: A Scuttering Across the Leaves, 2015 Sound installation in collaboration with Kasey Fowler-Finn September 3 –13, 2015 Cube Odili Donald Odita: Bridge, 2014 Wall installation Grand Lobby

Gallery Hours

Tuesday–Friday, 10 AM–6 PM Saturday and Sunday, 10 AM–4 PM Admission free Beyond Real: Still Life in the 21st Century Miles C. Horton Jr. Gallery Sherwood Payne Quillen ’71 Reception Gallery Moss Arts Center September 3–November 15, 2015 Presented by the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech Curated by Margo Ann Crutchfield Curator at Large

This exhibition features a body of work by each artist graciously on loan to the Center for the Arts at Virginia Tech from artists, private collections, and galleries in New York, Chicago, and Virginia.

For more information about this and future exhibitions, visit www.artscenter.vt.edu.

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Beyond Real: Still Life in the 21st Century  

Beyond Real: Still Life in the 21st Century