A Contemporary Still-life

The genre of still-life photography has a long history, dating back to the early days of the medium. Due to the limitations of early photographic technology, stationary objects were the preferred subject matter for photographers who drew inspiration from painting. But while photographic still lifes have endured throughout the last century and a half, they’ve also changed drastically.

I read a fantastic article in Artsper Magazine titled ‘How Contemporary Artists Are Making Still Life Art Cool Again’ and I couldn’t help but think about a particular photograph in the TAF Paper exhibition by Boitumelo Molapo, titled; ‘on offering’.

Her artist statement exclaims:  “Everybody wants a story behind the art, but my art just exists for the mere purpose of being beautiful. I try to challenge the “things happen for a reason” idea, what if that reason is just for something to happen or exist in its purest unreasonable state.”

When I look at this artwork, I am drawn to consider the connotations of the blanket she used, what that type of metal plate represents, why the grass is relevant, and what his choice of fruit means. But that is not what she wants – Molapo doesn’t want us to question, she simply entices us to look. This makes me even more curious about the artwork.

The artist has captured the spirit of the still life, in an ‘art for art’s sake’ manner, and I can’t stop thinking about how, despite this statement, the work looks incredibly considered. Art for art’s sake is an artistic movement that transcends borders where a work of art is regarded as a self-contained entity that exists independently of its creator’s identity. Molapo explains that she shoots with her subconscious mind, ‘painting’ a vision of the outcome before the message comes alive; she does not create art to force a narrative into the viewer’s mind but instead creates a space where the viewer can listen to the story they need to be told.

Artsper Mag describes still-life photographs or paintings as something that represent organic and perishable objects, and how they speak to the effect of the passing of time. They consider that perhaps this is why contemporary still life is in such dialogue with the past. Despite social and economic changes over the years, this rejection of the ephemeral remains. 

Read the quoted article here: https://blog.artsper.com/en/get-inspired/how-contemporary-artists-are-making-still-life-art-cool-again/

a contemporary still life artwork by an emerging artist
An offering by Boitumelo Molapo

Written by Shayna Rosendorff

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