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    Still Life, Still exhibition installation
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    Still Life, Still exhibition installation
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    Still Life, Still exhibition installation
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    Still Life, Still exhibition installation
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    Still Life, Still exhibition installation
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    Still Life, Still exhibition installation
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    Still Life, Still exhibition installation

Still Life, Still

April 10, 2020 - December 31, 2021
Palm Desert, CA



This unique virtual exhibition utilizes artwork throughout our galleries to showcase the diversity of still lifes. The genre expands across centuries and cultures because still lifes have provided a strong vehicle for artists to dazzle with their talents and to explore themes of life and death. Often filled with fruit and flowers that will decompose or could never be in season together, still lifes nevertheless fix moments in time. Themes of abundance, commerce, and temporality collide. In chaotic times, still lifes provide a passing escape into quiet meditations.

The exhibition is centered around two artists – Paul Wonner and Naoto Nakagawa. Wonner, one of the most important members of the Bay Area Figurative movement, became well known for his take on the genre. His early still lifes were inspired by the Netherlandish Old Masters. However, his paintings were surreal and proto-Pop in his choice of objects and composition. These later works in the exhibition softened into peaceful observations of everyday life. Other artists in the show, like Bruce Cohen and Daniel Sprick, similarly bring distinctive spins to the traditional Western still lifes. Rather than a strong break, these artists are in dialogue with the history of the genre.

Nakagawa, however, explodes the tradition. His still lifes are outrageously colored and surreal, not just in the selection of objects but also in their placement and scale. The grandson of a respected landscape painter and a student of Kikonami Joji, a leader of the Gutai group, Nakagawa creates imagery that evokes emotional associative responses. Like the Pop artist James Rosenquist, Nakagawa juxtaposes everyday objects, but unlike Rosenquist’s detached study, Nakagawa imbues objects and scenes with personality. Other artists, including Georges Braque and Kaoru Mansour, similarly upend the visual vocabulary while maintaining the same metaphoric capabilities. Others challenge what objects are to be included, from Damien Hirst’s pharmaceutical pills to Timothy Tompkins’s holiday decorations on store shelves.

Still lifes are not just aesthetically beautiful objects brimming with impressive technique. They offer the viewer respite and space for contemplation. The reflective possibilities of the still life is best captured by the English poet William Cowper: “Still ending, and beginning still.”