Sunday, July 6, 2014

Harvest with Joachim Froese

This week, Goma opened its free winter exhibition, Harvest.... a celebration of all things food.

Joachim Froese is a participating artist who, on the opening day,  had a public conversation with assistant curator Sally Foster.  Froese is a photographer whose broad body of still life work is steeped in the tradition of Dutch still life, and  hence my interest in his work despite the fact that I am a painter and he a photographer. Froese maintains that photography is as much about construction as painting is, and one of his great inspirations is Vermeer. Interestingly, he believes that Vermeer, along with many of the Dutch masters, probably constructed much of their work with the aid of a camera obscura, and  would have been digital artists if living today...a very reasonable statement considering how inventive and innovative the Ducth were at that time in the field of optical science.

Froese's  work is not separate from art history and theory, and for him the creative process begins with his reading. From his reading come his ideas,  followed by visual responses..more ideas follow, interspersed with more reading and so it goes. The results are meticulously staged and beautifully crafted photographs that gently reverberate with the loaded symbolism of the vanitas theme.  The flesh of the figs falls away; the two papayas have been photographed sequencially with the fallen seeds subtly moved between shots so as to infer a passage of time. Beautiful work.

The three works in the Harvest exhibition are from Froese's second Rhapography series and were direcly influenced by the Spanish still life artist, Juan Sanchez Cotan.. Cotan's paintings exhibit an almost monastic simplicity and austerity but are amazing in the seeming modernity of their compositions (of course I realize contemporary art rests on an historical basis and I suppose that is what Froese is highlighting). Below are a couple of Cotan's works...the momento mori theme without the extravagance of the Dutch still lifes.


I was utterley stunned when I first came across  Cotan's work, and no wonder he has had innumerable artists  pay tribute to him through their own art.

I love going places where there is an ongoing experience long after the event..on hand of Froese's talk I have ordered a book by the art critic Norman Bryson, "Looking at the Overlooked"...great title for a series of essays on the still life genre. This book is in transit at present making its way to my buying sending pressies to oneself. They arrive on a day when one least expects and it's Christmas all over again.

Have a great day, and enjoy your own creative endeavours, whatever they may be!

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