7 October 2016, Buzz Cardiff Online Features
If historically still life painting was concerned with the depiction of familiar objects, then contemporary art is interested in something more abstract: the process by which things become transformed into ‘things’ through painting.
This is the process that Woodley has tried to explore in this exhibition of contemporary still life paintings – Models and Materialities: Confabulation and the Contemporary – the third project of a series of three exhibitions at BayArt. The exhibition, which runs throughout October, considers how contemporary painters approach still life through model making and materiality seems to ask several questions, like how do painters come to conceptualise the objects of their paintings and why?
In her introduction to the catalogue for the exhibition, Emma Geliot notes that we always describe our own objects as ‘things’; mere possession imbues them with a strange intangible quality. We often use the term to describe the unfamiliar, the objects we can’t quite describe. What this exhibition shines a light on is how modern still life manages to open up both aspects of ‘thingness’ to understanding.
Many of the paintings that Woodley has chosen to display seem to be taken up with producing unrecognisable, reconfigured things, simultaneously familiar and alien. Clare Chapman’s Suturedepicts a great red mass, with a deep cut down its centre; it’s not quite some displaced bodily organ, but something transmuted and created anew by the artist. Another artwork featured, Timothy Hon Hung Lee, takes a typical Dutch still life of flowers and transforms it, appearing to drag the paint up the canvas.
The result of these paintings of objects – both the new, and those transformed into something rich and strange – is often odd, but always interesting.