12 January 2009

Tiny Flemish Feast.

I asked my friend Yuri Arajs for a request. Yuri is a minimalist painter/printmaker and a curator who lives in British Colombia. He asked me to make something that looks like those old Flemish paintings of a feast. Very decadent and unexpected from him. This is a tall order for a 3.5"x 5.5" painting, but why not. The old Belgian/Dutchy masters used food settings to show off their technical abilities, to wow us with the way they can show light bouncing off of the curves of a wine glass or the subtle sparkle of a droplet of water rolling down a grape. I knew I would have to dumb it down.
I did some quick research of Dutch and Flemish Baroque painters and decided that Jacob Van Es' style would be the best for me to rip off. It seemed to me that the trick was to cut every color with burnt umber and gloss medium. It kind of worked.
I choose food that I thought would be fun to paint rather than things that make sense. That's why it looks more like a lunch table with a very strange menu. But that is what you often see in these paintings. There are meals that consist of a bowl of grapes next to a bowl of olives with a freshly killed rabbit stretched out in front. The table is strewn with cracked hazelnuts and there is always plenty of wine served in ridiculous Rococo stemware.
I think I captured the proper mood here but maybe I should have done a few things differently. The lack of ominous shadows might be a little disappointing. I've also been told that the lobster looks a little too alive, like it could hop up and start hosting the feast. At any moment his flaccid claw might lift to snip off a piece of that terrible crusty bread for us, serving it up with a jerky, robotic thrust. What a party!

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