* * * GALLERY TALK by LYNN HURST, Saturday 28th January, 1.30pm * * *
The Dutch Vanitas painters of the 17th century could not have imagined how their work would inspire a wave of artists working in a medium not yet invented. A number of New Zealand photographers have drawn inspiration from them (Fiona Pardington's recent work is but one example) and re-interpreted the elements and content to reflect current, local and personal concerns. Several Photospace Gallery exhibitors have also explored the Vanitas theme, most recently Alex Efimoff in his 2015 exhibition 'Men'. But I think you will agree when you see Lynn Hurst's exhibition that she brings something new, personal and very different to the tradition.
'Nature Morte' is Lynn Hurst's first exhibition at Photospace Gallery. It opens on December 3rd (12 noon-3pm) and runs until 28th January, 2017. Please not that Photospace Gallery will be closed from the 23rd of December to the 8th of January, inclusive, but viewing by appointment is available on most days. I'm not leaving town, so please email James Gilberd if you wish to visit the gallery during the holiday period.
Artist and exhibition info - Lynn Hurst, 'Nature Morte'
My photographic work fits most simply in the category of still life. More
specifically it references, 17th century Vanitas painting in the juxtaposition of
material culture with objects from nature. These Flemish and Dutch painters
alluded to the moral and the metaphysical through a meticulous and sensual
depiction of objects— those symbolizing death, domesticity, wealth, and
worldliness. Exhibiting also a shared reliance on collecting (in my case, both
objects and pixels) this genre provides a space from which to comment on
issues surrounding privilege, the status derived from ownership, cultural
imperialism, and the politics of awarding value. It is an appropriate vehicle for
out times, one that is equally fixated on fear and consumption —ostentatious
display and the inexorability of death and decay.
[The time-consuming photographic and compositing process of the photographs in 'Nature Morte'] is important conceptually, not least of all, for its absurdity. The labour is often mind-numbingly repetitive, but is an action that serves to calm the limbic region of the brain and reduce anxiety. The obsessive and deceptive nature of the method mirrors a society obsessed by material culture and artificial beauty and is one perfected by the media to manipulate the unsuspecting. The Vanitas painters used their consummate craft and the still-life genre to cross-purposes. Ostensibly, their role was doctrinal, an imperative for redemption. The works conveyed the moralistic assertion that all human achievement and the pursuit of earthly pleasures was worthless, a vanity. They served as memento mori, reminders of the transitory nature of life and the inevitability of death. However, at the same time they were, themselves, objects of pleasure— status symbols whose success was dependent on their aesthetic beauty, technical virtuosity and coded iconography.
Below: Lynn Hurst artist bio, as a document.