The Still Life is often thought of as a bygone or lowly genre of painting. Jordan Kerwick is making a strong argument against this.
With origins dating back to Ancient Egypt, the Still Life has had a long and illustrious history. The style rose to prominence in the 16th and 17th century in conjunction with the expansion of horticulture and botanical encyclopaedias. It evolved into Vanitas, which served as both a celebration of life’s pleasures, and a timely reminder of the ephemerality of these indulgences. The Still Life has been revisited and reworked throughout the canon of art history, with artists such as Cezanne, Van Gogh, Picasso and Braque painting the Still Life into the modern century.
Kerwick’s foray into the Still Life was a natural progression. Long before he put paintbrush to canvas, Kerwick absorbed as much as he could about the modern masters, taking particular interest in Matisse, Cezanne, Miro, Frankenthaler, Kline, and Motherwell. It was his love for Matisse that prompted him to start drawing and painting flowers. The rest is history.
He quickly realised the problem solving aspect of painting flowers, and the evolutionary process that needed to take place before he could paint flowers that he really loved. Turns out Kerwick is a fast learner.
The luscious Marigold yellow flowers in I'm Sorry If I Was Shit, But I've Always Loved You are reminiscent of a Van Gogh, whilst the Nasturtium leaves in I Try To Read At Night, But I Just Fall Asleep are so masterfully painted that they burst off the canvas.
The flowers bloom from spidery stems, atop piles of books, an eclectic mix ranging from Sartre and Slayer, to the Pre Raphaelites, and Peter & The Wolf. Cigarettes and lines of blow make an occasional appearance.
It's the inclusion of the latter that brought meaning to the Still Life for Kerwick. They are remnants of a life that he is not long out of. For him, they function as a last 'hoorah', a small way of holding onto the feeling of being young and free.
'My wife and I are still 21 at heart, but 36 with kids in reality.'
Micro | Macro: Paintings of Love and Hate runs until April 14th, 2019. See the exhibition here.