Par Sylvain Campeau
Characteristic of Chih-Chien Wang’s art practice is his intertwined use of photography and videography, so it might seem incongruous to approach his work from the angle of the still life. Nevertheless, allusions to this genre constantly arise in his work, although analysts and critics have never thought to make more of them than just that: allusions.
Assemblages of the everyday. When we look at the images, we are quickly convinced that this reference is not gratuitous. Foodstuffs, fruits, and vegetables take centre stage. Sometimes the composition is quite pared down: the elements are isolated in the centre of the image. One thinks of the series Cabbage Flower (2011), Pineapple (2011), and Apple After Shaore (2014), and the images Sad and Happy from the Orange series (2014), and there’s more. Or one can think of the groupings complemented by domestic objects: Grape and Tea Bag (2005), Banana in a Glass (2005), Watermelon, Coffee and Detergent (2009), and White Cans and Pineapple (2009). Or of more complex scenes: Oranges, a Glass Ball and Shadows (2016), Pomegranates, Plastic Packaging and Wood (2016), Stems and Orange Peels on Cardboard (2020).
The still life. In the view of Charles Sterling, a specialist in the genre, “An authentic still life is born the day a painter makes the fundamental decision to choose as a subject and to organize a group of objects into a plastic entity.”1 These objects often correspond to the category of domestic foodstuffs.
It took a number of variants to arrive at this all-encompassing, minimal definition: Giorgio Vasari’s cose naturali (“natural things”) in the late seventeenth century; stilleven, in Flanders around the same time, to designate “pieces of fruit, flowers, fish” or “parts of meals served”; bodegón, from the word bodega (“place where food is stored”), utilized to describe the cellar anterooms of small taverns in Spain…
Translated by Käthe Roth
See the magazine for the complete article and more images: Ciel variable 117 – SHIFTED