As a child, Janet Fish lived on the island of Bermuda. Perhaps the sunny days spent by pink sandy beaches and turquoise seas influenced the look of her vivid studies on reflection and light. Still lives sometimes get a reputation for being stagnant. Yet, her explorations of sunshine interacting with glass and plastic feel playful. Usually, her postmodern food paintings are described as ‘realist’. However, her images retain a sense of magic that goes beyond what the eye can see.
Food photographers and stylists should take notes. Fish’s specialty is making the most innocuous subject matter seem enticing and exciting. Unassuming glasses of water become vessels that refract and scramble light waves. A row of store-bought salad dressing can be a colorful feast for the eyes.
While store bought salad dressing may not seem like the most interesting material, one could argue that the subject of Fish’s work aren’t the condiments themselves. Rather, her focus is on the color and light that these objects cast.
In the tradition of old masters, many of her still lives feature food and drink. But that’s where her observance of the old ways of doing things ends. Tight compositions are filled to the brim with detail. Even “negative” spaces contain the opaque shadows of stained glass and the folds of translucent wrappings.
Yet, the pieces she focuses on aren’t the exotic treasures or valuable imports that many still lives focus on. Instead, her postmodern food paintings find beauty in the things lying around in her home. Forgotten at flea markets and aisles of grocers hold everything she necessary for her works.
Quite often, art is a conduit to sell something. We work long hours in studios, finessing food to convince others to consume and invest. However, Janet Fish’s postmodern food paintings offer artists a refreshing reminder. Packaged food ingredients and products can be a thing of beauty outside of its market value or taste. A peach wrapped in cellophane casing can be as beautiful as one growing in a picturesque orchard – if you’re willing to look at the subject and forget the context surrounding it. Sometimes, it’s worthwhile to step away from profit margins and simply observe the rich array of hues and forms that make up our everyday world.
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