After Glow: As the Wick Burns
May 10—June 29
Artist Reception May 10, 6-8PM
As the Wick Burns (still life with endangered California flora and fauna), 2013; acrylic on canvas; 48 x 72"
In After Glow: As the Wick Burns Robert Minervini addresses the ecological impact of humanity on the landscape. In a group of thirteen new paintings and drawings of floral still lifes, literal and metaphorical quotations from traditional European vanitas paintings have been recontextualized in contemporary environments. The flora and fauna depicted in these works are currently listed as endangered wildlife in California. These present day memento mori directly reference the traditional form and function of vanitas paintings—which acted as symbolic reminders of the inevitability of death—by depicting local wildlife that is in the process of extinction.
The subtitle “As the Wick Burns” is a poetic adaptation of a familial saying which Minervini would use whenever preparing to depart from family gatherings. In Molfetesse, Minervini's family’s regional language, the expression “Sa squagghiate la cer” roughly translates as “the candle wick is about to burn out,” meaning our time together is coming to an end. Minervini often found this saying to be bittersweet, and it echoes the notion of time fleeting presented in his work.
Ranging in scale from intimate to grand, and in style from abstract to realistic, these highly meticulous and layered artworks vacillate in a space that is both symbolic and illusionistic. Using predominantly acrylic paint, and mixed media such as paper and cellophane, the materiality and physicality of these works in close proximity is contradictory to the slick appearance that they take on at a distance. At moments, paint skins scraped up from the palette are collaged into and on top of layers to create flower forms. In contrast, highly rendered moments intermingle with swatches of spray-painted forms and shapes to create a visual weaving and density that mimics the effect of looking into an elaborate bouquet of flowers.
The flowers in these works have been chosen for their symbolism of aesthetic beauty and the way in which they simultaneously signify ecological disaster in a specific time and place. Through this body of work, Minervini poses the question: What is the greater cultural significance of depicting something that is both beautiful and a sign of something profoundly tragic?