this is not a still life
neon, electricals, 60cm x 100cm,
image credit Keith Maxwell
If ‘Still Life’, as Giorgio Morandi painted it, is a reflection of who we are, then what about a still life formed from neon?
This is not a Still Life is a direct comment on life as we know it, ebbing and flowing, consistently in motion, challenging our very existence as we live – fast or slow, hard or soft. This is not a Still Life alludes to the ideas of the 16th Century Dutch and Flemish masters where the craft of traditional still life painting is a way in which one is present and gazes slowly and deliberately at each and every fine detail.
Placing the work within the depths of the Blue Mountains wilderness, a space where many seek solace, accentuates the meditative qualities of the work and creates a space of contemplation and serenity. This is not a Still Life departs significantly from the artists’ use of the everyday into an unfamiliar medium, diverging from found objects and unexpectedly engaging with the shiny, newly manufactured neon – a stark reminder of what is transpiring outside the realms of the pristine environment in which it now sits. The work takes the still life genre off the table and places it right at the centre of life, causing uneasiness while paying homage to the phenomenon of neon as artist Dan Flavin has done so before.