Friday, 17 June 2011


                                          MEDICI GALLERY 17.6.11

(c) Medici Gallery

They call it photo-realism: a couple of words which scoop up the transformation of
a flat surface of paint and canvas into objects which cry out to be touched, handled, enjoyed.  I can feel the grain of the linen cloth, the cool of the silver, the fragility of the shells. It's best to stop thinking and simply absorb what Tony de Wolf has achieved with such a limited range of subtle colours and shapes: peace, calm, harmony.

Tony de Wolf is a Belgian artist who draws on the classical tradition of still life painting by the great Flemish artists of the 16C and 17C. But it’s impossible to stand in front of the stillness and the sense of presence of his pictures  without recalling the work of the Italian artist Georgio Morandi (1890 – 1964). Yet his exquisite painting is never derivative.

Why egg shells? Each one is unique. Hard, fragile, protective and life-giving. A friend of mine had to eat them as a source of calcium when a child in the 1940s. Her family, living in China,  was interned in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp.

Egg shells have been sculpted and drawn and painted in art of every kind. Only the other day I saw a sculpture of a large and arresting bird made from them (they may have been papier mache?) at the Polka, a children’s theatre in Wimbledon.
I wonder about the title? Is it a witty reference to contemporary royalty? Yesterday Carol Midgley in The Times recalled that she’d read how the staff of the Prince of Wales make seven boiled eggs for his breakfast to ensure that one is of his preferred consistency. Myths abound when it comes to royalty. Perhaps the story attracted the attention of the artist?

And that egg yolk winking at us from the bottom right hand corner? A fiery sun with all its associations of health, wholesomeness, nourishment. But don't forget salmonella...


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