Nicole Duennebier, is a painter who’s found an incredible connection between the darkness and intricacy of undersea regions and the aesthetic of 16th century Dutch still-life painting. You’ll notice a familiarity to classical painting, but once you really start to look at her pieces you notice something off, that the elements seem to be decaying, that there’s no traditional objects like fresh, red apples.
Bu there’s also a sense of life to her pieces, life that is more closely related to things like jellyfish or other gelatinous creatures. I asked Nicole to write down some thoughts on how she sees her work, and here’s what she had to say.
My interests in natural phenomenon (dermoid cysts, fungus, invasive flora/fauna) and my love of candied old-master opulence always seem to be present in my painting. Painting with attention to detail, I’ve become accustomed to the fact that nature in itself, or anything living really, never totally allows you to have a perfectly idealized experience. Everything is always spewing, dripping, rotting a little. Similarly 17th century still-life paintings with vibrant lusty fruits that show the light fuzz of decay beginning, I don’t see these paintings as needing to be allegorical, necessarily. To me it is more the realization that both the rot and the fruit are a textural attraction. Both take the same concentration and care to paint as well.
My association with the classic chiaroscuro darkness in still-life is of it being like a primordial soup. A pool of black that springs forth a decadent and sometimes horrible growth. With that I’ve always liked the obsolete idea of spontaneous generation, all that awful stuff just popping into existence for no reason. I feel as though my paintings are more spontaneous generations than firmly rooted in actual living organisms.