Better or Worse
May 2016
Neil Keith Baker

Who is to say whether an opened oyster sat on a table is better than one bedded on a rock; but traditionally, still life painting would have chosen the first. The one closest to the point of use and the display of its richest visual attributes. This is a delicate negotiation however, such paintings give us recently butchered meat and raw vegetables and not the recently cooked. Precious silverware sits, usually not polished, but tarnished or in a darkened space. Still life painting traditionally balances different appetites that originate from nearness to life and use.

The objects here are lonely and seem shy, as if pushed in front of our gaze and instead of alluring us, they provoke a confounding mixture of pity and unease. It might just be that they are breaking into a smirk. There is definitely a sense of rupture throughout; surprising and dynamic spaces puncture the picture, but often they don’t correspond with the view we are given. Where there is colour, it is urgent. There is nothing sumptuous about what we see. These objects are at work in a precarious presentation of themselves.

But what is being ruptured and is it better or worse? What would an oyster look like here? Perhaps opened and put back, upturned on the rock? In a place that wouldn’t arouse any appetites, but maybe some unease.

-Kieran Drury , Taiwan 2016