Contemporary Retellings: Claudia Smalley

20 Mar

One of the things I loved about studying art history in college was learning the backstories and narratives behind works that seem, on the surface, simply decorative.  Throughout the history of art, still lifes have been used to convey deeper meaning through the symbolism of the objects they portray. In her Peek series, Chicago artist Claudia Smalley looks past the narrative to distill the still life into its simplest values– color, shape and light.

Still Life I, oil on canvas, 48x36

Smalley successfully interprets what some might consider a mundane subject ( not me, though! ) into exciting, contemporary abstract interpretations full of movement and texture.

Still Life 6, oil on canvas, 48x36

She captures the essence of the genre in terms of composition ( what every art student studies still lifes for! ) and that glorious chiaroscuro employed by masters of the staged vignettes.  Her canvases move and glow with the same delicate rhythm.

Still Life 5, oil on canvas, 20x24

While I was in painting studio in college, I remember my favorite instructor telling us to squint in order to see how strong our light and composition was.  Smalley’s Peeks extracts the strongest elements of detailed compositions and redefines them in an equally elegant, though much more modern way.

Fruit 3, oil on canvas, 24x36

Still Life 20, oil on canvas, 36x24

To see more of Claudia Smalley’s interpretational work, please visit her website.

Featured image is Still Life 2, oil on canvas, 36×24.  All images are via the artist’s website.

One Response to “Contemporary Retellings: Claudia Smalley”

  1. Conceptual Muse March 22, 2012 at 2:04 pm #

    Reblogged this on Conceptual Art.

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