The Beauty in the Banal
“Bread and Butter” by San Antonio artist, Seth Camm is an extraordinary still life painting encased in a rugged and raw skin, breathing with bellicosity. Thick underlays of heavily applied oil paint are worked and reworked, striving for absolute painterly perfection. This direct and distinctively meticulous quest for definitive and absolute finesse is mirrored in Camm’s artistic persona of self-tormented pursuit to make the painting come alive. Camm’s preference for a dark and melancholy aesthetic is fine-tuned and masterly applied to the mundane and banal still life, canonizing it with academic importance.
A toaster with a slightly lopsided slice of warmed bread totters off to the left side, confined to the narrow slots of metal constrictions- an appliance asylum- while purposefully polysemous petals of the floral bouquet adds a sense of traditional still life etiquette; an addition that balances out the arrangement.
The triangular composition of the toaster to the stick of heavily layered yellow butter to the perfectly presented buttered toast gives the eye a pleasant linear anchor to explore the tabletop; all centered on the detail of the convex reflection. The choice of a white tablecloth starkly contrasts the dark and almost blood red backdrop. Camm uses an off-kilter and obtuse angular backsplash countertop corner as a repetitive compositional element, mirroring the viand.
However, the key player in this entire quasi-lugubrious classical configuration is the mirrored surface of the metal. The foreshortened reflections, the bantam angular sophistications are striking in their stunted glory. Carnival horror house distortion mirrors offer an eyeful of edible enticements.
“Bread and Butter” offers edginess that is underlying, a composition that is traditional, and a lustrous aura of a woebegone world.
-© Gabriel Diego Delgado
J.R. Mooney Galleries, Boerne