Thursday, September 25, 2008
Pieter Claesz. Still Life with Roemer, Oysters, Bong, and Rick Wakeman Poster, 1642.
Domestic but fraught with hungry tension – a brilliant example of Dutch ontbijt in the 17th century. A picked-over tray of oysters, labial symbols of Christian rebirth, rests before a half-filled roemer of white wine, itself as much a reminder of the pale purity of Christ's blood as it is a venue for Claesz's mastery of the painted reflection, daring the viewer to deny the scene's verisimilitude. Bread, the body of Christ, is arranged on the diagonal of the severant knife, instrument of martyrdom and liberation. A softly transparent bong sits at the table's corner. A Rick Wakeman poster bleeds beyond the frame, a tantalizing invitation to explore the space beyond Claesz's painted bounds.