Artistic Licence: Still Life paintings by Ian Mastin present a banquet of fruit, cheese, brandy and wine with classic style.
This most inspiring exhibition of Still Life paintings opened on Saturday 3rd April, 2021 at “Art on Cairncross”, Maleny, Queensland, Australia.
The good news is that the artwork is also now available as an online exhibition in the UK, through select galleries such as The Torrance Gallery, Ian Mastin’s exclusive agent in Edinburgh.
“The concept of a physical exhibition in Australia accompanied simultaneously by the same exhibition online in the UK was not something I’d ever have considered pre-COVID – an experimental endeavour.”
Ian Mastin was born in England before his family later emigrated to Australia. With no formal training, he enjoyed sketching for recreation, and when living in Scotland for over a decade, he began to study artistic technique and styles, and is now a full time, professional artist, based in Queensland.
Known in French as Nature Morte, Still Life paintings are a stylised arrangement of objects on a table, such as fruit, flowers, glassware and textiles.
It really is extraordinary to compare Mastin’s exceptional natural talent and skill with the 16th and 17th century Dutch and Flemish Masters. Their subjects ranged from flowers, human skulls and candles to depict Memento Mori, the fleeting nature of life, to simple breakfast dishes and lavish Baroque displays of fruit, wine goblets and books to illustrate culture and wealth.
A superb example is ‘Still Life with Cheese’ by Floris van Dyck, an elaborate feast of grapes, apples, nuts and wine.
From this Golden Age, fast forward to see how these domestic scenes were modelled and modernised by such Impressionist artists as Cezanne, Gauguin, Manet, Van Gogh and Valadon.
“Bring a brioche, I want to see you paint one: Still Life is the touchstone of painting.” Edouard Manet.
Paul Cezanne seemed to be fascinated by orchard fruits especially apples of all shapes and sizes which were the star subject for numerous paintings.
” I am captivated by the deep roots of the past .. the relationship between inanimate objects and our origins .. a simple relic of some antiquity immediately stirs within a hunger to connect with its provenance.”
Let’s take a look around the ‘Artistic Licence’ exhibition of contemporary Still Life acrylic paintings:
Bread, Wine and Cheese
You could be forgiven for assuming this softly lit composition was painted around 1620 …..not 2020. Here the dark varnished, cracked old wooden table is set for a meal: the delicately, draped fold of a linen napkin, the glistening glass of white wine, a scatter of crumbly cheese and crusty bread, all finely crafted with such intimate precision.
Still Life with Pears and Grapes
It may appear a more simplified display, but this has exceptional photographic quality. Look at the surface of the splintered table, the purple-black skin of the grapes with sharp stalks and shapely pears with tiny nicks in the skin. All so aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
Spoilt for Choice
Following the recurring theme of Paul Cezanne, here too is a fine collection of crisp, shiny, polished apples – perhaps Gala, Granny Smith, McIntosh, Pink Lady et al. – in contrast to the gnarled timber grains of the table.
“I always love painting fruits and never tire of the subtleties and richness of their colours and textures. I’m also drawn to the bonhomie evoked by images of good wine and food. I never need much encouraging to go searching for a succulent cheese to complement a classic burgundy – used purely for artistic purposes, needless to say.”
Moulin des Carruades 1977
A meticulously detailed and most appetising Study of wine, bread and cheese as similarly depicted by the Dutch Masters. You could view this for hours and still find hidden facets in the tactile textures. First the dusty sheen on this vintage wine bottle, as if just retrieved from the cellar, the ripe, melting Camembert in greaseproof paper with freshly baked bread. Note too, the hinged metal lock on this antique chest.
Moulin Des Carruades from Domaine Barons de Rothschild: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc – “Rich fruit, blackcurrant, tobacco, cedar, oak, well-balanced.”
Chateau d’Angluet Margaux
The wine estate, Château Angludet has belonged to the Sichel family for six generations so this represents a real sense of heritage: the dark green bottle with its intricately sketched label and the reflection of glinting sunlight. Uncorked, it’s ready to serve with grapes and slice of cheese. A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, & Petit Verdot, this vintage 2006 Bordeaux is described as deep red with black tints, ripe and elegant.
Age Before Beauty
This may certainly appeal to those in Scotland and worldwide who relish a dram of these fine Single Malt Scotch Whiskies from the Speyside and Highland regions. The fisherman’s rod and basket create a dramatic setting, to illustrate a day out on the River Dee, Aberdeenshire or, indeed, Baroon Pocket Dam, Queensland. Slainte Mhath!
Still Life paintings provided the best opportunity for the pioneering 16th century artists to show off their painterly skills.
With artistic licence and photo-realism accuracy, as a modern master of the genre, Ian Mastin demonstrates such delicate beauty and classic style in these exquisite compositions. Whether a bowl of cherries, a carafe of port or a pile of antiquarian books, this is an artist with a dedicated passion for perfecting this iconic, timeless tradition.
Artistic Licence – a showcase of Still Life paintings by Ian Mastin
3 – 25th April, 2021
Maleny, Queensland: ‘Art on Cairncross’ – if you live locally, visit the gallery.
Edinburgh: available online at The Torrance Gallery
View the exhibition here:
Prices include P&P, insurance, tracked shipping and UK customs duty.
Browse the E-catalogue: