Three paintings concerned with articulating a familiar object. They all strike their own balance between the actuality, and a sort of abstract, or pre-conceived idea of what the object should look like. I am interested in the interpretation of object - how one either reverts to mental imagery or memory to provide the foundations of an image - creating a pictorial representation of an ideal, or how one can examine the peculiarities of a specific object and therefore produce a portrayal that is unique to the circumstances in which it was viewed and created.
Ben Nicholson, A Single Mug, 1921
Paul Gauguin, Still Life with Three Puppies, 1888
Sam Windett, Cup with Sticks, 2007
Nicholson's mug is a mixture of original interpretation and recognisable diagram. The stiff, pointed ellipse at the top of the vessel is like a preordained crown, already reserved to represent Opening Of Mug. Yet the conflicting perspectives and the overlap of the mug and the background very much imply a humans first hand observation in a real context. The painting seems to be a conflicting combination of Nicholson’s predetermined understanding of what a mug looks like and also a wonky exploration of how one can actually transfer the bulbous three-dimensional shape onto the two dimensions of paper. A handle in 'real life' is not flat, it could not exist as such a simple shape, but the question mark curves could not be clearer in their illustration. The simple line articulates the form succinctly. Almost a cartoon representation, the mugs handle appeals to our mind's internal, stereotypical 'mug' image bank, even though actually, is rather implausible.
A more blandly implausible mug collection.
Gaugin's wine glasses do not revert to any banal interpretation.
The saucepan looks stunted, although accurate in it's depiction (the shadow, the foreshortening of the handle). It's truthful portrayal makes it seem strangely displaced. The bizarre set-up looks suitably bizarre.
Windett strips the object down to its most basic form. By removing any previous understanding of how a cup holding straws works, the image can focus on a more primal, simple, pure visual interpretation.