ChilliLemon | David Paul Gleeson
Signed, Limited Edition of 100.
Giclée print. Pure pigment archival ink on 300gsm Minuet 100% Cotton Rag stock, 35cm x 47cm (22.5cm x 35cm print area), unframed.
(Please note: The prints in these photographs may bear proof markings and numbering. Purchased prints are marked with applicable edition numbers.)
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In his first series of prints for Editions SSA, David Paul Gleeson celebrates “The Magic of the Quotidian.”
“Chilli and lemon go together so well in food,” remarks Gleeson of ChilliLemon, the original painted in acrylic on board. “I wanted to make a painting that celebrated that wonderful combination. Here, I treat them with the respect they deserve. The entire composition is minimal, but includes all sorts of surfaces and textures: hard, soft, shiny, matt.”
In this strongly vertical composition, the artist invites the viewer to share his wonder at the beauty of the everyday. Against a greenish-blue, finely textured background, the puckered, oily-yellow form of a lemon contrasts with the matt consistency of a heap of orange-brown chilli powder, some of it nonchalantly sprinkled across the surface. Our gaze then descends towards the silky red, untouched skin of the jalapeño pepper, whose silvery highlights are in turn reflected by the teaspoon – a utilitarian object to which we normally pay no attention. The arrangement is at once measured and haphazard. Is this a carefully composed still-life or a snapshot? Is somebody about to prepare a Moroccan dish, or are we simply being reminded that we must have the humility to appreciate the simple things in life?
In a contemporary reinterpretation of a tradition of still-life painting that dates back to 17th- and 18th-century Spanish and Dutch masters such as Juan Sanchez Cotán and Adrian Coorte, Gleeson captures the transience of everyday existence and holds it up for scrutiny. At the same time, he builds on his affinity with 20th-century Color Field painting as exemplified by artists such as Mark Rothko, Ellsworth Kelly and Frank Stella. This is apparent in the composition of these arrestingly simple images, which hover between the abstract and the figurative.
In Gleeson’s work, the stone ledges or frames frequently shown in early still-life paintings, which focus the onlooker’s eye on the very ordinary objects depicted – a cabbage, a peach, a radish – are replaced by Rothko-inspired colour fields. As much attention is paid to the backgrounds – dragged in to appear substantial rather than being mere planes of colour – as the objects portrayed. The complex, subtle hues are very much based on the tonal composition. There is no indication that we are looking at a real surface such as stone, slate or wood. Together with the sharp shadows and highlights, the colour fields thus contrast with and heighten the objects depicted – raising our awareness of things that we would normally take for granted and elevating these still-lifes to the status of portraits.