Still life paintings have been around for a long time, but they continue to be popular especially as decorative pieces. Yet, the best still life paintings are able to transcend the decorative label and manage to become as thought-provoking and emotional an experience to the viewer as any portrait or action painting. Think, for instance, of Van Gogh’s series of sunflower paintings. Amanda Echevarria’s “Shine” strives to achieve this transcendent effect through the discriminating use of a few choice visual elements.
“Shine” is executed with oil pastel on paper. It depicts a couple of luminously glowing blue flowers on a dark ground along with some billows of blue fabric. The artist was obviously having fun working with light in this painting. Indeed, in itself it is a study of how certain surfaces catch light. The fabric has a rich sheen to it that tells us it is satin, while the flowers also exude a wonderful radiance. The way the light strikes these two objects is interesting – while the sheen on the cloth is realistic, the way the flowers are lit goes beyond the limits of what’s possible in the physical world.
In this painting, we have great tension between the natural and the artificial, the deliberate and the accidental, as well as the real and the unreal. We have the flower against the cloth, the nonchalant way the flowers lie and the deliberately arranged folds of fabric, and the lighting effects. It is these tensions that undoubtedly make this painting a conversation piece. The title alone tells us that the artist is interested in exploring these contrasts, and so we should take note of the ones that eventually lend the most character to this painting.
In “Shine” one can’t help but be drawn to the soulful way that the blue flowers glimmer against their background. The satin is meant to be a foil for them, but they clearly outshine it, making their natural beauty triumph over the artifice. These two little blue blossoms stand for loveliness that cannot be hidden and cannot be held back.
If this painting interests you, you will be glad to know that it’s for sale. This painting and others like it can be found at Chings Resto-Kaffee at the Jade Dragon’s Suites, a Davao hotel known for being inexpensive yet clean and even elegant in a minimalist manner. This is one of the nicest among the cheap hotels in Davao City, so make sure you drop by the next time you’re in Davao.