The works featured in this exhibition were chosen to offer an overview of my studio work and the opportunity to feature works found in two monographs on the paintings, “Objects for Study” published by Broken Jaw Press, and a text published in conjunction with a retrospective exhibition by the New Brunswick Museum.
Still life painting has for centuries engaged artists in the unique challenge of defining meaning within the constraints of the modest. The transcending challenge of defining a world within the immediate focus of the still life has offered a tantalizing and even seditious critique of the of contemporary life.
I originally started exploring the possibilities of still life painting as an art student. I remember wanting to move away from the contemporary orthodoxies of large-scale exuberant painting of the 1980s and choosing still life as a foil to explore the more simple and purely essential in painting. It is a choice that has offered ever increasing resonance and challenge though the years.
My still life subject matter comes from a number of sources. The coffee makers and more contemporary objects are from around my house, junk shops, yard sales and walks on the shoreline. Many of the broken bits of crockery and egg shaped objects come from a series of drawing done at the Ashmolian museum at Oxford. Originally I was at the museum thanks to a Brucbo traveling fellowship to study their collection of Dutch still life painting, a wonderful collection of still lifes overflowing with flowers, foodstuffs and table settings symbolically reflecting the brevity of life or the vanitas theme, a still life tradition that influences my own.
Oscar Wilde said, “All art is useless” an observation that acknowledges the role of art as one free of the dictates of this world and beyond the clutches of the utilitarian. I always thought that those arts most close in association to Wilds observations would be poetry and still life painting. Both of which on a cursory examination escape the obligations of immediate utility and yet can offer an incisive if not dangerous critic of our contemporary world.
Still life painting has been my principal focused for years now, and each time a work reaches completion there seems to be a point where the work itself calls into being its own final completion. The works are finished when they pass that point where I can do them no more good. They have left my grasp. Then they are complete. Then their journey from the studio into a broader world begins. (END)
About the Artist
William Forrestall is a nationaly reconized artist with an extensive exhibition record of over 150 solo and group exhibitions. He teaches part time in the Fine Arts program at St. Thomas University.
He has been responsible for the initiation and development of numerous art projects, lectures, publications, and cultural projects including the conception and planning of the Fred Ross mural restoration project at the University of New Brunswick (UNB) and the book Redeemed; Restoring the Lost Fred Ross Mural, with essays by Charles Hill, Virgil Hammock, Tom Smart and John Leroux.
He is a member of the AICA International Association of Art Critics and has developed numerous group and solo exhibitions as curator and director of the Yellow Box Gallery at St. Thomas University.