Steve Chmilar, The Adult Table, 2019

It’s a fascinating painting, perhaps because it is so enigmatic. We see the force of Nature sprouting out of the clothing of the two women in front, one of whom is mesmerized while the other is scared. A man blindfolded by his tuque scoops a shovelful of salty wet landscape out of the glowing bowl at center. It has a rainbow. Meanwhile, a magical orange force glows from within the cabin behind the group.

It was inspired by Joseph Wright of Derby’s painting ‘An Experiment with an Air Pump on a Bird’ from 1768 (we wrote about it on Apr 22), where the observers to an experiment all react differently to what is happening to a poor bird. Chmilar states that his painting is about objectivity vs subjectivity, that is, “A meta vs physical dichotomy – in some ways, the past vs the present, and even hard sciences vs metaphysics. I am interested in academia and the major conclusions that are derived from meta-fields that aren’t easily demonstrated and objectively verified by a group of different individuals.” Hence, we see various meaningful objects in the painting that defy easy categorization and a tidy narrative.

I personally saw a connection with climate change and how we all react to differently to news stories about what mankind is doing to the earth, to which Chmilar agrees that the imagery is up for interpretation: “I want my paintings to incite conversation.”

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