Darker Than Light
“The art of copying from nature as she really exists in the common walks of life” Walter Scott, 1816 **
This collection of works pays homage to the golden age of the Dutch Masters. This roughly spanned the 17th century, during and after the Eighty Years War (1568-1648) for Dutch independence. At this time, artists started to explore the familiar and everyday rather than religious iconography. The detailed portrayal of the ordinary and domesticity of life, food and nature was a constant focus. Upon reflection it is interesting to consider that to a large part it’s been turned on its head, our relationship to food has changed to such an extent that the familiar has become the unusual. Its true identity has largely been erased through the process of standardising the norm, and rejecting and wasting the “ugly, malformed and grotesque”. Huge amounts of fruit, vegetables and animal body parts are simply thrown away due to our modern aesthetic of how produce should look and consequently what we eat.
In a multicultural country such as Australia, a family’s food often points to cultural heritage and place. In the 17th century before intensive farming, or transportation of food over large distances, communities ate what was available close by so diet depended on season, and where a person lived. Families often ate the animals they raised. Some images here are quite confronting, and quickly raise the question where did the animal come from? How was it treated? And sometimes, did it need to be killed? . It’s easy not to ask these awkward questions of our selves, while strolling down the supermarket isle.
Since studying fine art Richard, has had personal interest in the Dutch Masters, and in particular its black and moody aesthetic. In conversations with fellow artist Angelique McLoughlin, the initial conception and development for the collection began. The dark romanticism of the imagery is a celebration of the humanity of the period. Richard greatly enjoys the collaboration process stating “it often takes you to unexpected places, and brings joy and fun into the creation process”. Throughout this collection darkness appears to peal back and reveal each detail, slowly the viewers eye finds different elements creating personal interpretations of a story in each still-life.
The provenance of produce and animal welfare was an import consideration in the making of these photographs.
**Art of the Everyday: Dutch Painting and the Realist Novel. By Ruth Bernard Yeazell.
A solo exhibition at SUNSTUDIOS will take place on 19th March – 9th April2020.