Still Lives

Anthony Sonnenberg

December 12, 2012

Things that are not what they appear to be fascinate me.

Having been born and raised in a tiny Texas town, where secrets were impossible to keep and gossip was the main form of social currency, I learned from a young age to always look beneath the surface and be suspicious of anything that seems too good to be true. I realized early on that the truth existed neither in the fictions that one sees on the surface nor in the facts that lurk below, but rather in the constantly ongoing negotiation between the two.

My work is a continuation of this negotiation. The work is highly variable in regards to media, scale and materials but it is united by a rigorous multi-layer conceptual construction wherein the main narratives are woven into and placed behind superficial semi-transparent ones. Therefore, while on the surface the works may appear to be solely concerned with frivolities of decadence and technical virtuosity, at their core they are driven by the entire unknowable and tragic nature of the human experience. This driving force is not one that viewers are eager to engage with and so the beauty of the surface is needed to bridge the gap between what I would like to communicate to the viewer and what the viewer is willing to receive.

The works selected for this exhibition are, as the title suggest, centered on the still life genre. This decision was made mainly because still lives have been at the forefront of mind for most of my life. It was by studying the grand Dutch still life paintings of the 17th century that I first started to develop the afore mentioned formula for a multilayer conceptual framework. Their impeccably rendered surfaces scream opulence and indulgence, while the suspicion of the physical world and the specter of death loom just below the surface. I have been exploring notions related to still lives by pushing them into the realm of the abstract whilst playing upon the tropes and visual language of the genre. Although commonly dismissed as hackneyed or banal, I aim to prove that the still life genre has much to offer contemporary art