Bullseye presents Vanitas

Michael Rogers, Vanitas IV, 2012
cast glass, 6.75 x 16.625, 12 inches
Photo: G. Tesch

Portland, OR – Bullseye Gallery presents Vanitas, a group exhibition featuring new work in conversation with mortality and impermanence, on view January 2 – March 2, 2013.

Vanitas is a genre of still-life painting that flourished in the Netherlands in the early 17th century. The vanitas originated as small inscriptions found on the back of portraits. These grew in popularity until the full-fledged vanitas emerged and became a suitable subject for a painting. Commonly featuring skulls, books, instruments, and flowers, these paintings are not-so-subtle reminders of transience and the inevitability of death. They exhort the viewer to consider mortality. From a modern perspective these images lack the symbolic impact that they once commanded; however, the import of these works remain with us.

With this as a starting point, five artists were invited to produce works that resonate with the theme’s symbols, meanings, and contemporary interpretations. Shannon Brunskill’s domestic installations and sculptures speak to memory and the breakdown of relationships through time and distance. June Kingsbury’s macabre Navigational Errors are altars to dark chance. Catharine Newell’s kilnformed panels relate to a personal experience with mortality. Marc Petrovic taunts the natural order in the pairing of predator and prey. Michael Rogers directly addresses the vanitas by translating historical symbols, normally seen in paint, into cast glass. “Glass,” explains Rogers, “with its transparency and translucency, is at once there and not there, making it the perfect poetic material to try to capture the fleeting.”

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December 20, 2012