This is the first of what we hope will be a regular opportunity for visitors to Beverley Art Gallery in East Riding of Yorkshire to enjoy shows produced for the Mall Galleries, which is home to the Federation of British Artists (FBA). The FBA consists of eight of the UK's leading art societies and many of its members have contributed to this show, which demonstrates that the still life painting is still very much 'alive' and as relevant, inspiring and enduring an art form as ever.
The still life painting emerged as a distinctive genre or category in the 17th century. Flowers, foodstuffs and humdrum objects were arranged and painted with a precision that tested artistic skill. Whilst the everyday subject matter and detailed realism gave the still life painting popular appeal, the allegorical symbolism or hidden meaning that these pictures often contained meant that they also appealed to the connoisseur.
The attraction of the still life has remained a constant to the present day. Artists continue to welcome the challenge of exploring everyday objects through colour, texture, tonal variation and the play of light. For some artists meticulous realism remains a guiding principle, for others texture, colour and form are their primary concerns.
Still Alive: The Contemporary Still Life, featuring works by members of the Federation of British Artists (FBA), presents a survey of contemporary still life painting. The exhibition explores time honoured allegorical themes such as the transience of human life in Sam Dalby’s Skull and Bottles or the futility of regret in David Cobley’s Spilt Milk. The exhibition also addresses contemporary subjects including pub grub and Subbuteo and demonstrates that still life painting remains an enduring and challenging art form.
Words by Gerardine Mulcahy-Parker, Curator, Beverley Art Gallery.