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Objects of Beauty Contemporary Still Life Painting

Objects of Beauty Contemporary Still Life Painting

CK Contemporary 357 Geary Street, San Francisco 415.397.0114

What is contemporary still life painting? A genre so deeply steeped in tradition hardly seems a vehicle for work truly on the cutting edge. However, while historians may claim that still life reached its peak in the 17th century, this rich and varied group of nine painters from around the globe clearly demonstrates otherwise. By evaluating contemporary culture through the objects that saturate our everyday lives, they have created metaphors for morality and mortality as well as celebrations of the future and reflections of the past - the results of which are relevant today, yet timeless. Each of these artists has approached the genre from a very different point of view. The organically based works of Italian painters, De Biasio and De Lucchi reflect, at times, a surprising luxury with ties to sustenance and an undeniable undercurrent of drama, while Dianne Gall, of Australia, and American painter James Hollingsworth tend to highlight the intimacy of still life painting - focusing on objects that tell stories of our homes and of our past. Conor Walton’s work is most firmly rooted in the tradition

of vanitas, where objects are selected to create symbolic meaning, often expressing the hollowness of earthly life and the transient nature of vanity. Though, perhaps in the best example of the fluidity between the genre’s traditions and its relevance as a contemporary means of expression, Walton illustrates these ideas with a seamless combination of objects likely found in the most familiar of still life paintings juxtaposed with plastic children’s toys, lunar landers and modern books. From an aesthetic standpoint, one cannot underestimate the classic beauty of still life painting. It is a genre that has its roots in representational painting where the technical skills of the artist can be celebrated and only the most gifted stand out from the crowd. Faithful detail and immaculate renderings separate the true masterworks from any other attempts at the genre. Perhaps that is the string that ties these nine artists together most closely - spectacularly beautiful, masterfully executed representations of the things we love, remember, and hold closest to ourselves. Lauren Ellis, Director CK Contemporary

Conor Walton It’s the End of the World as We Know It Oil on canvas 11 3/4 x 24 inches

David De Biasio (Italian, born 1973) David de Biasio was born in Jesolo (Venice) in 1973. His education took place in Italy as well, which further connected him to the country’s famous artistic and architectural tradition, as is evident in the aesthetic and expressive elements of his still life paintings. With careful attention to both traditional and contemporary values, De Biasio’s paintings are what he likes to call the “tradition of the new” - in other words, the ideals of Giotto mixed into contemporary aesthetics. While his tools remain pure and classical (white canvas, brushes, oil paints, and varnishes) the study and elaboration of his subjects are greatly enriched by modern stimuli.

De Biasio experienced a visual revolution in the United States, where he lived from 2003 to 2008, integrating himself into New York’s variegated and lively art scene. He had the opportunity to maintain direct interaction with prominent photorealist painters, which fundamentally enriched his still life paintings. These experiences led De Biasio to a more technical, in-depth pictorial exploration aimed at achieving an extreme, almost arrogant realism, while remaining rooted in the traditional Italian definition of beauty.

“I give a lot of importance to the compositional technique of my still lifes. Every single object has to be positioned in the right place. There must be a sort of dialogue (chromatic and volumetric) between the elements.”

#64 Sottili Equilibri Oil on canvas 31 1/2 x 31 1/2 inches

#120 Oil on canvas 19 3/4 x 39 3/8 inches

#116 Oil on canvas 19 3/4 x 39 3/8 inches

#117 Oil on canvas 19 3/4 x 39 3/8 inches

#66 October Sunlight Oil on canvas 39 1/4 x 47 inches

#121 Oil on canvas 19 3/4 x 39 3/8 inches

#63 Equilibrium Oil on canvas 31 1/2 x 31 1/2 inches

#115 Oil on canvas 19 3/4 x 39 3/8 inches

#111 Walnuts Oil on canvas 24 x 47 1/2 inches

#100 No Logo Oil on canvas 39 1/2 x 39 1/2 inches

#101 No Logo Oil on canvas 39 1/2 x 39 1/2 inches

#112 Vintage Phone Oil on canvas 40 x 47 1/2 inches

K. Henderson (American, born 1964) K. Henderson was born and raised in Oklahoma, but currently resides in a very rural area of southern New Mexico. She has received over 100 Best of Show and First Place awards in national juried art shows, and has been featured in numerous magazines and articles. She placed

2nd at The Hubbard Museum of Western Art Biennale Grande and won the Purchase Award at the Art Renewal Center Salon. Henderson’s playful subjects are the foundation and inspiration for her contemporary still life

painting. She sources these semi-discarded childhood relics from various locations, and she states that the more used the object, the better.

the course of their existence. Her meticulous attention to detail and vibrant colors provide a wistful sense of nostalgia, even in this day and age of technology and computer games.

Her intention is to capture every minute tear, tape, and scratch that have accumulated over Space Pilot Oil on linen 24 x 48 inches

Top: Hopalong Cassidy Acrylic on canvas 20 x 30 inches

Left: Spaceship: Journey to Jupiter Oil on linen 30 x 40 inches

Dick Tracy, Super Detective Acrylic on board 20 x 16 inches

“With every painting I create, I’m still fascinated with the idea of making a three dimensional object appear on a flat surface. If I have a choice when buying a toy or game, I’ll go for the one with ‘character’ rather than the pristine one. I like the ones that have been well played with and well loved.”

Rubens Crayola No. 18 Acrylic on board 18 x 24 inches

A Perfect Mason Acrylic on canvas 30 x 30 inches

Conor Walton (Irish, born 1970) Conor Walton studied painting and art history at the National College of Art and Design, winning the Taylor Prize in 1993, the year of his graduation. Since winning Third Prize for Painting at the Florence Biennale in 1999, Conor has developed an international career, with solo exhibitions in Ireland, Britain, Denmark and Norway. His portraits have won prizes at the BP Portrait Award  in London and  at Portrait Ireland  and are found in numerous public and private collections. He currently lives in Wicklow, Ireland,  with Jane Carney and their three children. Walton’s years studying art history as well as his Master’s degree in late seventeenthcentury cultural politics, have greatly influenced his approach to still life painting, which is significantly more cerebral than decorative. He states that, “Everything I do in still life is done tactically, strategically, self-consciously. I end up trying to treat the painting as a miniature drama, a microcosm. I use objects that have meaning for me and try to get the whole painting to make a statement, to express an attitude. And because still life is an art of objects,...attitudes like objectivity, materialism, fatalism, nihilism, are easily accessible through the genre.”

Ceci n’est pas une Blague Oil on linen 24 x 30 inches

Still Life with Judgement Oil on linen 24 x 18 inches

“The bunch of grapes has long been something of a painter’s emblem. Since the time of Zeus’ legendary painting (so convincing that birds flew down and tried to eat them) the bunch of grapes has tested a painter’s mastery of chiaroscuro, colouring and realism. It is a test to which I have often returned.”

Top: The Runaway Train Oil on canvas 18 x 24 inches Bottom: Saturnalia Oil on panel 18 x 24 inches

“If the spirit of Apollo presides over the formal still life, Dionysus is the reigning deity in vanitas, inviting us to eat drink and be merry, but in the ever-present context of suffering, death and the transience of our world.�

The Enemies of Progress

Oil on linen 24 x 48 inches

Here Be Monsters Oil on linen 15 x 24 inches

Monkey Painting Oil on canvas 16 x 32 inches

Investement Grade Still Life Oil on canvas 15 x 30 inches

Jay Mercado (American, born 1958) Jay Mercado was born in Sioux City, Iowa and raised in San Francisco, California. Farming and gardening have been an integral part of his family for generations. Through his work, Mercado continues this agricultural legacy, exploring, examining and celebrating what tends to be taken for granted, overlooked or dismissed. His still life paintings of fruit are illuminated icons. Out of context and over scale, they are sacred objects from the common ritual of raising crops.

sharer of time, it witnesses our dreams and acts as a spectator to loving, fighting, laughing and crying. Abstract and simple. Not just a pillow but only a pillow. A reliable friend. Therapeutic and healing, it conforms to our needs. A soft symbol of strength, the pillow is a magic cloud of comfort,” he states. Mercado studied painting at UCLA, Art Center College of Design, California College of Arts & Crafts and the Academy of Art College.

Another area of exploration for Jay Mercado is the pillow. “It cradles us while we sleep. An intimate

“On one of my easels rests a painting still unfinished. In this state the art is meditation that quiets my mind as I make it come alive. I lose myself in the rolling hills of drapery. I push, pull, plunge and pet. I’m in a creative trance in my sacred space. This is my mandala.”

Opposite: Bed Sheet 2 Oil on canvas-wrapped panel 32 x 42 inches

Ocean Beach Pillow Oil on canvas 42 x 38 1/2 inches

Ripe Whispers Oil on linen-wrapped panel 46 x 60 inches

Unveiled Possibility Oil on linen-wrapped panel 46 x 60 inches

Aperture of Bliss Oil on linen-wrapped panel 46 x 60 inches

Pillow I Oil on canvas 24 x 36 inches

“The pillow. Keeping watch on the bow of the night ship. It cradles us while we sleep, an intimate sharer of time, it witnesses our dreams. A spectator to loving, fighting, laughing and crying it, swallows our emotion. A filter. A sponge. A mirror. A mask. A talisman to distill all hopes and fears with past, present and future intertwined. Abstract and simple, not just a pillow, yet only a pillow. A puffy sculpture waiting for your return. A reliable friend. Therapeutic and healing it conforms to your needs. A soft symbol of strength, the pillow is a magic cloud of comfort. As Cupid’s mascot it becomes an apt symbol for love.”

Nectarine in Tissue I Oil on canvas 24 x 24 inches

Nectarine in Tissue II Oil on canvas 24 x 24 inches

Ottorino De Lucchi (Italian, born 1951) With a degree in Chemistry and Pharmacy, De Lucchi’s prestigious career as a university professor and researcher stands out above all in the brief notes of his personal background. There is no conflict between his work and his art, as his experience as a chemist produces his ability to observe nature with serenity and tranquility qualities which are apparent in his baskets of fruit and his unusual vases with their delicate flowers, standing out against a uniform background, while light flows through them and highlights their profile with a bright outline. His compositions are made up of very few elements, an expression of modernity, far from the complicated opulence

of the Baroque. A single object attracts our attention, revealing its intimate beauty, and we ask ourselves what is so strange, so unusual and yet so familiar about them? A turning point in his career came when De Lucchi discovered the drybrush works of Andrew Wyeth.  His scientific spirit drove him to conduct a long series of experiments, coming up with a technique which is based on a similar underlying idea but entirely original in terms of how it is executed.  However, in both artist’s work we can identify the essential qualities of simplicity, precision, conciseness and consistency.

Pomeriggio di Dicembre Drybrush watercolor on board 4 3/4 x 13 1/2 inches

Above: Verso Aprile Drybrush watercolor on board 10 x 14 1/4 inches

Opposite Top: MetĂ Marzo Drybrush watercolor on board 14 3/8 x 14 3/8 inches

Opposite Bottom: Settimana di Maggio Drybrush watercolor on board 10 x 20 inches

Iron Pot Drybrush watercolor on board 20 x 20 inches

Lanterns in Silver Drybrush watercolor on Board  14 3/8 x 20 inches Caco su Scodella Drybrush watercolor on Board  10 x 14 3/8 inches

Dicembre, di Sera Drybrush watercolor on board 10 x 14 1/4 inches Gourds Drybrush watercolor on board 14 3/8 x 20 inches

Ultimi Caldi Drybrush watercolor on board 20 x 28 3/4 inches

James Neil Hollingsworth (American, born 1954) James Neil Hollingsworth was raised in Marietta, Georgia. Shockingly, with the exception of a few life drawing classes, Hollingsworth is a self-taught artist. His early adulthood was spent in a variety of disciplines. After high school, he served in the U.S. Air Force, and later worked as a licensed aircraft mechanic. He had his own typesetting business for several years and then shifted his profession again to work as an emergency room and surgical nurse for more than a decade. The dynamic stages of Hollingsworth's early career are linked by a common thread - each position revealed his penchant for detailed work and honed his appreciation for design and craftsmanship.

In 2004, Hollingsworth committed himself to pursuing his art full time. Placing his subjects against a simple backdrop, he intensifies our connection to their design and aesthetic appeal through formal choices. A dramatic use of light, flawless draftsmanship, and clever compositions bring viewers up close and personal with the irresistible shapes and colors inherent in ordinary household objects. In his romanticizing of utility-driven design, one can draw comparisons between Hollingsworth's style and mid-century modernism. His vibrant interpretations transform utensils and edibles into powerful, visual creatures that beckon our prolonged enjoyment. Â

Opposite: Big Drill #2 Oil on panel 24 x 24 inches

Triumph Oil on canvas 36 x 36 inches

Single Coke Oil on panel 24 x 24 inches

Sunbeam Mixer Oil on panel 24 x 24 inches

Corey Electric Oil on panel 18 x 18 inches

Dianne Gall (Australian, born 1964) Dianne Gall was born in Adelaide, Australia in 1964. She received her Bachelors Degree both in Fine Art and Design from the South Australian School of Art. She has been involved in numerous solo exhibitions all over the world and has participated in over 100 group shows. Her work is also featured in the Parliament House Collection in Canberra, Australia and has been displayed in several museum exhibitions. Gall is known for her cinematic portraits of women but it is through her still life painting that she is able to further her themes of femininity, domesticity and an idealized version of Australia’s past. For

her, the 1950’s marked a time when the country was basking in its modernity, hopeful and looking toward the future, complete with visions of the archetypal housewife and the perfect household. However, she states that, “Historically, people didn’t have as much. They might have had one nice thing when they got married and it had pride of place on the mantlepiece. Objects became silent watchers of families coming and going (it’s the notion that they are watching us not the other way round!). Objects are important - why are they there, how did they get there, was it a gift, was it a long saved up for treasure, was it the only precious thing that a woman owned?”

Gall’s other major influence is her personal fascination with Japan and her love affair with objects she considers “cross pollinated” between Australian and Japanese cultures - Astro Girl being one of her most frequently depicted. She says, “My Grandfather hated anything Japanese because of the war, so I grew up not talking about such things. But we had so much bone china made in Japan, our cars and many other things. When I used Astro, I was talking about the cultures, Australian and Japanese mixing.” Teacakes Oil on linen 15 3/4 x 52 inches

Lure of the Tropics Oil on linen 24 x 28 1/8 inches

“One of my aims is for the viewer to evoke memories, ‘Oh yes, my mother/grandmother had something like that’. I have this notion that the inanimate object has a unique past and its own inherent character with a story to tell.”

Astro Girl’s New Special Friend Oil on linen 16 1/2 x 39 3/8 inches

Hey There Pretty Flamingo Oil on linen 24 x37 1/2 inches

Ornament Oil on linen 15 3/8 x 14 5/8 cm

Opulence Oil on linen 15 3/8 x 14 1/2 inches

Equilibrium Oil on linen 19 5/8 x 88 5/8 inches

Hollis Dunlap (American, born 1977) Born in 1977 in Northern Vermont, Hollis Dunlap began painting at age 14, initially experimenting with still life and painting various subjects from imagination. Dunlap later went on to study at the Lyme Academy College of Fine Arts. During the period of his education, he was the first painter to be awarded First Prize at New York’s National Arts Club student exhibition two years in a row, as well as receiving the Academy’s John Stobart Fellowship, awarded each year to a graduating student in recognition of outstanding work. In the winter of 2001, he studied at the National College of Art and Design in Dublin, painting the figure and furthering his understanding of dynamic

light effects. Since then he has had numerous solo shows in Vermont, Connecticut, New York, Boston, and San Francisco, and currently paints at his studio in southeastern Connecticut. Dunlap’s aesthetic influences come from both old and new masters of various styles, which has allowed him to discover more modern methods of applying paint while emphasizing strong aspects of design in his compositions. His work seamlessly blends the precise and solid foundation of drawing with the transparency of spontaneous, gestural brushwork.

Late Night Beer Oil on panel 24 x 30 inches

Opposite: November Afternoon Oil on panel 24 x 30 inches

The Thinker, the Bottle and the Skull Oil on panel 24 x 30 inches

Looking Outside Oil on panel 24 x 30 inches

Lemon and Orange Oil on panel 24 x 30 inches

José Basso (Chilean, born 1949) José Basso is known for his unique landscapes that are at once serene and intense. It’s quite easy to lose oneself in the beauty of the jewel like colors and soft infusion of light that set the foundation for his work. However, it’s the artist’s ability to strip down the natural world to its most essential elements, leaving only light, air, space and the few components that remind us of the human presence, that allows him to communicate extraordinary complexity. This stripping down is the anchor for his still life compositions as well. His paintings exhibit an almost mathematical exactness to the organization of space, but the simplicity and precision in his compositions belie the intricacy of his brushwork and the sophistication of his intentions. In Basso’s landscapes, parallel bands of color which serve to anchor strong horizon lines are punctuated only by the geometric forms of houses, trees and ships. By incorporating these signature compositions into his still life canvases, he is still able to capture the essence of solitude, serenity, longing and memory. José Basso has garnered numerous awards, honors and worldwide recognition. In 2011 he was honored with a retrospective at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Santiago, Chile - a show that was voted as the best exhibition of the year by the Museum Board. He has completed countless important private and public commissions and continues to be added to the permanent collections of museums throughout South America and abroad. Top: Casa Azul Oil on canvas 30 x 24 inches Opposite Page: Casa y Espino Oil on canvas 30 x 24 inches

Bottom: Paisaje con Huevo Oil on canvas 30 x 24 inches

357 Geary Street , San Francisco

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Objects of Beauty: Contemporary Still Life Painting  

A beautiful collection of contemporary still life paintings on exhibit at CK Contemporary in San Francisco

Objects of Beauty: Contemporary Still Life Painting  

A beautiful collection of contemporary still life paintings on exhibit at CK Contemporary in San Francisco