Image of Still Life with Riot

Still Life with Riot

Oil on linen, 61 x 76cm
Beaumont, Christopher, 2021

2021 is off and racing... and started with a riot!

Would there have been a riot at the US Capitol on the 6th January 2021 without social media?

This work is about time. Present time, historical time and the way time just seems to race at us. Unlike photographs which are records of an instant, paintings are painted over time. Both are images but paintings really are things, and the recording they make is of their own execution. This painting is an effort at History painting - even if it is a still life.

This one is the third in a series of three identical still life arrangements of lemons on a marble ledge. The first has an entirely black background with hints of geometry. The second has a colourful geometric field as a background. This third one jumps the shark (relatively) into history and was originally painted as a grisaille with no reference to riots. That version is now history because I have completely over-painted it in glorious technicolor including a social media driven riot that will certainly go down in US and world history.

The original series:

3 paintings of lemons

I wanted to play with the performance of an oil painting like a composer creating variations on a theme or a musician performing the same piece multiple times. I set out to take a previous composition and execute/perform it in three variations: the same still life subject arrangement with three completely different visual contexts.

This picture uses the (very melbourne) neo-classical architecture in the upper left of Tiepolo's The Banquet of Cleopatra, a painting about an historical moment. When I saw the images on social media of the US Capitol riots of 6 January I knew I had to re-paint Tieplo's balconies. They had changed role from passive witness to active insurrection.

History is a race to what happened next. The horse and jockey is borrowed from a past commission and surrealistically challenges the stasis of the still life of lemons. It is racing across the the canvas yet frozen in a photographic moment of history.