Julian Rogers

The paintings that I make are a phenomenological take on the still life tradition. Various fruits placed among the textured surfaces of rocks recall the hallmarks of still life: texture, composition, technically competent painting, and so on. Yet the dramatically darkened treatment of these objects causes our eyes to search them out, to be drawn to the certainties provided by realist painting. These paintings are stubborn in the sense that the eyes of the viewer must adjust to them. But instead of seeing only darks and lights as our eyes will in low light, here you get a new range of colors: a thin range of blue or grey colors that appear to be yellow, red, orange, etc., yet are always just blue or grey.

My father taught me to draw when I was very young, and as he did he also explained to me how his colorblindness affected him. These two lessons came together as he explained how in identifying certain objects like fruit, we tend to use a mixture of information (pertaining to color and shape) in recognizing "banana" or "apple" and so on. In these paintings, the amount of clear information is paired down so that one can notice these decisions being made.

Still life painting as a category of art history has become a focus of my work. As I move forward, I will continue to think about the expectations for still life painting and ways that they can be made new. I am only interested in this realm of cultural production inasmuch as it pertains to a contemporary context. Every so often, still life is recontextualized (Picasso, Morandi, Manny Farber, Kristin Calabrese) as a means to opening up a conversation, to take what we know about technology or perception or abstraction and run it back through the basic building blocks of painting. I feel that there are some forms of abstract painting that share a language with my work, and that it is precisely because my paintings are based in realism that they are capable of pulling unexpected levers in how one must cope with the imagery itself.

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