Wednesday, April 08, 2015

The extraordinary ordinary

When I was a child and visiting my Scottish grandparents in Aberdeenshire, being sent to bed while it was still light meant that I was far from sleepy.  I would stare up at the ceiling, and wonder what the room would be like if we lived upside down.  I took this thought to other ceilings, and it meant that I was immediately drawn to this photograph by William Eggleston (image from here).
I don't know if there is a category in art for the Extraordinary Ordinary.  There should be.  Still Life is a portmanteau expression.  It is meant to be the equivalent of Nature Morte - but I have them clearly distinct in my mind with death being spelled out unequivocally on the one hand, as in this Jean-Baptiste Oudry (Nature Morte avec oiseaux morts et cerises image from here)
while on the other, the death is glancingly dealt with - either with a Memento Mori, as in the case of this Cezanne (Still life with skull image from here)
or not mentioned out loud as in my favourite Winifred Nicholson still life (image Cyclamen and primula image from here)
There are squillions of painters of still life, but the other day I encountered one which made me stop and look closer.  Nathalie Du Pasquier's website lays out her paintings in a wondrous development over the years from examples of still life,
the atmosphere of which reminded me of de Chirico below:The dream turns image from here
to a formalised presentation of the extraordinary ordinary.  
But for me the painter who matches the way that Eggleston captures what is there in front of us and presents it straight in its own compelling beauty, is Altoon Sultan (image below from here)
whose blog Studio and Garden is also a delight.


  1. My mother painted - in oils - all her life and still life was one of her favourite subjects. Certainly, in her case it was the extraordinary ordinary. This post made me think of her. Thank you.

  2. It must have been interesting growing up, Margaret, with the sights and smells (of the oil paint, turps, etc.) in the house.

    1. It was the talk about things artistic that I most relished ... and now miss. The oil paint and turps were less enjoyed - and perhaps the reason I've chosen other media to express myself?

  3. Thank you for the words of support on the post. I appreciate it.
    Keep up the great work & happy blogging!


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