Still Life
Still Life See the Wise Woman
Still Life See the Wise Woman
Still Life See the Wise Woman
Still Life See the Wise Woman
Still Life See the Wise Woman
Still Life See the Wise Woman

One evening I had lit the candles and was sitting on the couch lost in reverie.
My gaze fell upon a vase of red roses I had bought that morning at the market. Their beauty took my breath away. This is how this body of work was born. As with everything new, it is first born in emotion. Amor engaging Psyche.
The above experience coincided –obviously not by chance- with the fact that still life had begun to get my attention whenever I was in museums.
When the Academy of Fine Art was found in France in the 17th century, a hierarchy of subject matter was established. Historical themes – along with mythological and allegorical ones- were placed at the very top. Second place was taken by portraiture. After that came everyday scenes, then landscapes, animals and lastly and very undervalued, came still life. Over the course of their entire history, still life was considered an appropriate subject matter for women. In many countries, women excelled especially in painting flowers.
Is that pure coincidence?
I wonder why it is so difficult for the human mind to think of things horizontally. Why must there always be a vertical value judgment? Why must one thing be above or below something else? Are we made like this or are we trained to think this way?
Theoretical discussion on still life is scarce most probably because still life is not valued. For, how can one have something interesting to say if one does not care about the subject in question?  I feel the need to read such theoretical texts as they help me consciously understand what I am doing.
My search for a discussion of still life brought me to a book by Norman Bryson –professor of Art History at the University of California, San Diego-, entitled Looking at the Overlooked. One of his theses concerns the fact that the subject matter of still life are everyday life objects which we overlook precisely because they belong to the realm of the ordinary world and therefore are not monumental. This is one more reason for the underestimation of still life: a vase, a flower, a lemon, a musical instrument, a bowl, a piece of material, objects that are found in the home, traditionally the feminine space.
I gradually became aware of the fact that I was photographing objects that I either grew up with or have been living with for a very long time and had never really looked at, until now. This means that they have been in full view all this time and yet I never saw them. I wonder how often this happens on a symbolic level. How many things are in front of my eyes that I don't see…until I am ready?
I felt drawn with intense force to the forms used in still life. Bowls, vases, bottles, vessels of all kinds and shapes. Through Bryson's analysis, I understood that the reason why they have so much force is because their essence transcends time. Primitive man needed vessels in order to store food and liquid. This basic need has not changed over the course of time and the vessels have retained their fundamental and universal strength.
So, in some way, still life talks about the transcendence of time.
I suppose that in some way, every artist talks about himself. Cotan and Zurbaran, two Spanish monks, reveal the monastic life, the inner life and its way of seeing the world. Fede Galizia in Italy, is moved by bowls of fruit and paints them as she sees them. The Dutch proudly say, "look how rich we have become!" through their depiction of tables of abundance. Chardin soundlessly enters the home and paints the everyday life of women, children and objects. Cezanne paints apples and talks about the visual perception of the entire world. Matisse is aroused by fabrics and colours. Morandi meditates on a few simple bottles and creates a world that contains existence.
I feel and understand (or at least I think I do) the emotions they experienced when creating these paintings. Perhaps this is why I prefer the term still life used in English rather than Nature Morte in French and Νεκρή Φύση in Greek. One talks about life the other about death.
And each time Amor releases Psyche and a body of work is finished, it hurts.