Feb 012008

I think I can guess why these paintings found such an understanding audience. It’s because they tap into a modern theme, controversy to some; because this is relevant art with political and social overtones — probably not the first topics arising in our minds when confronted with still life. But in this case (well, maybe in most) it’s best to look first and think next, — in other words, shed the preconditions of the genre. Still life painters usually seeks to highlight the aesthetics of the subjects, reshuffling composition, color, perspective and other elements, and, so does the artist here. But by including a piece of plastic, she evokes a string of current issues and interweaves them into the aesthetic processing. As a result, the viewers get the bonus of being challenged with the aesthetics of modern living — and in an aesthetic way too.

Looking at these piece brings to mind the agendas of recycling, suffocation of nature and depletion and exploitation of natural resources. On the other hand, the sheer mastery of execution isolates a sudden beauty: these plastic bags are simply pleasing to the eye. And yes, we lead a good and easy life by all conceivable standards, we can afford indulging in an artistic appreciation of such a mundane subject, which all the while threatens to cut short that lifestyle — and hence the controversy mentioned in the first paragraph. This is a thinking people’s art. It offers two often clashing perspectives and it doesn’t offer a compromise; it doesn’t even push towards one, but it exposes the public to the difficulties in seeking and achieving it. No answers, but the questions in their fullest and most penetrating form: the artist  reveals the complexity and moral ambiguity of modern living.


But lets talk some basics too. If these interpretations have any real meaning it’s because the paintings they are based upon demonstrate the technical prowess of a virtuoso. Countless photographically accurately rendered creases, along with complex alternations of gray and white, accompanied by the hazed color of the bags’ contents, all in seemingly random and loose arrangements create an unexpected (and overwhelming) effect of liberation and daring. There is something provocative about the compositions. It may be the decision to keep the fruit — usually the central object — mostly off the center, allowing the plastic to wiggle freely right in the middle, or perhaps the lack of a definite shape and figuration, also the result of the plastic wrapping. What eventually comes to mind is that although we are not used to talk about avant-guard discussing still life, this is exactly what is going on in these series.

  5 Responses to “Linda Lucas Hardy: Wrapped in Plastic”

  1. Thank you for doing this series on Linda Lucas Hardy, who happens to be one of my favorite artist. I agree with you, these are very avant-garde still lifes, because they deal with modernism. It also deals with the unexpected, by cropping the subject, playing with light and contrast which are a very key elements in this kind of renderings. And even though it is typically a very hyperreal image, the composition itself is somewhat abstract, even with all the details, we don’t really know what type of produce is inside the bags. Bottom line, she taps into unchartered territory, where few realist artists have gone before and gives us a most surprisingly fresh take on current contemporary realism elevating her medium to new heights.

  2. This is fascinating art, not only because of the social commentary but because it plays with light and perception so cleverly.

  3. Alvin Richard: And thank you for these important details. I agree with your analysis, the duality of hyperrealism and abstract elements is striking.

    Crafty Green Poet: Indeed, and in fact I often feel I drift too far to readily with the social comments. I pledge each time to focus more on the technical details and each time my memory misserves me.

  4. how odd that this ‘fresh’ look at still life, incorporates a plastic bag as a main subject. brilliant observations as ever elijah :)

  5. Thanks, Ming. I agree, plastic is everywhere today, and it was only a matter of time until it intruded art as well. Actually, I suspect it happened some time ago, maybe in different art forms, but this is my first personal encounter with painted plastic.

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