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Fleamarket Milkmaid and ColaGirl are going to the USA

2013
4 brandnew works (Supersandwich included) will be shipped to and shown by Bernarducci Meisel Gallery, New York during the show Summer Sights, opening june 6th 2013

Fleamarket Milkmaid is the third and last old Dutch master wrapped in cellophane Tjalf did. The work is mansize and therefore it is confrontating us very close with Vermeer's iconic kitchenhelp.
The plastic is fold in the direction the light comes into the room and can been seen as a contemporary lightcatcher. It brings the work right into the 21st century. The price confuses us and deforms the icon to a cheap reproduction found somewhere on a fleamarket. Sparnaay shows us how an images travels through time and culture.

ColaGirl is a modern vanitas. It is the American counterpiece of Fleamarket Milkmaid. Never mind the crushed container and its rusted metal, Coca Cola stays always -with you! Someday this 'throwaway society' is about to change into a 'cradle to cradle-one' but till that time we can enjoy wasty masterpieces they are priceless and for free.

The Most Delightful Egg: Tjalf Sparnaay & Hyperrealism

By Laura Eliza Enriquez

The roundness of the eye is mirrored by the roundness of the orange and yellowish line, forming a perfect circle almost in the middle, slightly to the left, of the image. The perfect circle is habituated by a smooth gradation of vibrant primary color red, to sassy secondary orange, to bright and lovely yellow. A delicate spot of white on the top, shining and reflecting. The perfection of the circle inhabited by this perfect chromatic scale, conforms the perfect visual smoothness of the yolk. This perfect visual texture is continued from the inside to the outside of the yolk: pure white, with lighter and darker shades, contrast with the vividness of the center. The eye gets to see some bursts created by color; and the eye assumes the egg is already cooked: irregular brownish curved lines delimit the silky white area. Right next to this darker perimeter, soft greenish blue, a subtle wave of light color in the background, closing the circle of balance.It is a 80x80cm visual paradise of symmetry, harmony and rhythm: everything in its right place. From taste paradise to visual paradise: has never an egg looked so beautiful before.

I am describing contemporary Dutch artist Tjalf Sparnaay's painting of a fried egg. His work, including this perfect and delicious sunny-side-up, is considered to belong to what art experts would nowadays categorize as 'hyperrealism.' But I still doubt to what extent this is actually accurate. Let me go to the definitions.

'Hyper-' is a prefix, coming from the Greek, meaning 'over, above, beyond.' Therefore, hyperrealism transcends realism. Realism is a category used to classify every work of art produced in Europe, specially in France, in the second half of the 19th century. It would be used because of the very nature of these works: the aim of depicting reality, natural or social reality; the aim of describing, without judging. The problem appears when reality itself is transcended and redefined: art itself needs to transcend and redefine this new reality; realism becomes hyperrealism. But when looking at other hyperrealist works, I still wonder how these can be similar to my beloved fried egg.

The difference between common hyperrealism and Sparnaay's hyperrealism is huge. The difference is the same difference described by American art historian Svetlana Alpers in The Art of Describing, between Italian and Dutch painting in the 17th century (just that four centuries later). In this text, the main difference is the fact Italians narrate, while Dutch describe. Yes, regular hyperrealism, yet trying to be as real and raw and shocking as possible (because, isn't reality raw and shocking?), is still quite narrative. There is still some remnant of judgment of value, of critique (for some reason, subject-matter is usually related to human nature, to nudity, to scatological situations). But, how could it be other possible? Surprise! An alternative is possible, and our perfect egg proves so: pure description, pure colors and bilateral symmetry, achieving pure objectivity, and escaping the rigors of subjectivity (such as multiple planes, controversial color, etc)... it is the fortunate track of theprecise trajectory of a delicate paintbrush that remains loyal to the eye. Four centuries later, the Dutch did it again.

The Alpers argument was based on an analysis of Dutch culture as a visually and knowledge oriented one; a very trendy culture, aware of what was going on at the very moment in the world, in terms of science, technology and navigational discovery. The argument can still be stretched out: when looking at the rest of Sparnaay's works, one may finish starving, because of the multiple depictions of food, but there are other multiple objects, such as cans of Coke, and classics of the great Dutch Masters, wrapped in cellophane (my favorite, The Milkmaid by Vermeer, has just been done. God bless Facebook, because there I can follow the progress on the work of my favorite artists), and so on. What is going on today? Liberalism, free-market, monopoly (yes, including food), a lost of aura (in Benjamin's terms). I bet Sparnaay is somehow aware of that (consciously or unconsciously). I've been studying in the Netherlands for one year, and it's been enough to realize to what extent they're aware of their surroundings; and that is highly reflected on their educational system, for example.

Anyways, going back to the egg (because the egg was first, and no one can doubt that... or can they?), there is no much room left for moral nor subjective judgment: the image is completed—complete balance in form, space and light. But there is room for aesthetic judgment: perfection, I would say. No one had taken the time to convey that much pure ness and lightness in something as texturally complex as a fried egg, a complete challenge to the eye, I must say. Simplicity is sometimes the hardest to achieve, just as perfection (anyone trying to cook an egg knows about it... know imagine trying to paint it!). Here I introduce an important quote by art historian Ernst Gombrich, from the Introduction of brilliant The Story of Art:
I think we can only hope to understand this if we draw on our own experience. Of course we are no artists, we may never have tried to paint a picture and may have no intention of ever doing so. But this need not mean that we are never confronted with problems similar to those which make up the artists life... Anybody who has ever tried to arrange a bunch of flowers, to shuffle and shift the colours, to add a little here and take away there, has experienced this strange sensation of balancing forms and colours without being able to tell exactly what kind of harmony it is he is trying to achieve. We just feel a patch of red here may make all the difference, or this blue is all right by itself but it does not 'go' with the others, and suddenly a little stem of green leaves may seem to make it come 'right'. 'Don't t touch it anymore,' we exclaim, 'now it is perfect.' (Gombrich 1959, p. 14)
Yes, perfect. When I first found this on the web, I must say I was completely astonished. And if I was completely astonished, it was for two reasons, being the first one scientific, and the second one, more personal: first, because of the immaculate composition of the image; and second, because of self-identification. Since I learned how to grab a pencil (perhaps more than 18 years ago), I draw everything within my visual field (this is partly where my affiliation to art comes from); and food has probably been one of my most recurrent topics. I remember myself in primary school trying to depict the most delicious piece of cake; I remember me in secondary school right before lunch time, and not having other thing but a sheet of paper and my regular bunch of color pencils; I remember the precious gift I gave to the guy who had a crush on me in high school, the drawing of a fatty bacon cheeseburger (he still keeps it). I always thought if one day I'd become an artist, I'd have to paint food (among other cool stuff, of course). I do not dare to compare myself to genius Tjalf Sparnaay (quality and technique speak for itself; plus there's a reason why I'm not an artist and he is), but, at least, I'm happy, believing in Gombrich's words and thinking there must be something in common.

So don't touch it anymore, now it is perfect. Successfully, the yolk didn't break, and the white remained white. Finding this egg was just sublime. This huge egg made out of blue, white and yellow painting, is just the most delightful egg ever.

May, 2013











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