Karin Preller The First Gallery 1996 | Art.co.za | Art in South Africa
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The First Gallery 1996

Photography provides the source material for my still lifes. The paintings are in oil on canvas with soft brushes which almost obliterates the brushmarks, reinforcing a surface that is at once ‘photographic’ and painterly. I deliberately reproduce the discrepancies inherent in a particular photograph which, for me, has become a means of ‘altering’ the familiar. This is effected by means of deliberate inclusion of photographic data – the sharpness and blurring, simplification intensification of shadow and light, photographic angles, and deliberate cropping of images that photography allows. In this way photography is acknowledged as not simply reproducing the objects that surround us, but also recycling or displacing it, setting it at a double remove.

Still life is often regarded as insignificant, concerning the everyday, the decorative, the trivial. But the objects that surround us make up a large part of the fabric of our lives. In an analysis of the complexity of this apparently simple form of art Norman Bryson (1990:61) states:

Still life takes on the exploration of what ‘importance’ tramples underfoot. It attends to the world ignored by the human impulse to create greatness. Its assault on the prestige of the human subject is therefore conducted at a very deep level. The human figure, with all of its fascination, is expelled. Narrative – the drama of greatness – is banished. And what is looked at overturns the standpoint on which human importance is established. Still life is unimpressed by the categories of achievement, grandeur or the unique. The human subject that it proposes and assumes is anonymous and creatural, cut off from splendour and from singularity. All men must eat, even the great; there is a leveling of humanity, a humbling of aspiration before an irreducible fact of life, hunger.

(Bryson, N. 1990. Looking at the Overlooked. Four Essays on Still Life Painting. London: Reaktion.)

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