Belin has also considered the idea of artificiality in the context of the traditional still life. Two massive color images of fruit baskets dominate the first room of the show. These over-saturated pictures were paired with still lifes by Manet in a recent exhibition at the Musée d'Orsay (linked below). In Belin's compositions, the explosion of fruit has become so controlled that it has been transformed into luscious, comical kitsch; real fruits look like decorative imitations, displayed for maximum visual effect. While there are echoes of Baroque still life allegories of prosperity and abundance in these works (there is also a direct link to Roger Fenton's dense, exotic piles of fruit), her images are wonderfully over-the-top, bold and vibrant exaggerations of the importance of surface beauty. A black and white floral still life hangs on the back side of one wall, a dark and shadowy foil to the colorful chaos of the fruit baskets. The artful bouquet hovers in the air disembodied from any context, reminiscent of the delicate 19th century still lifes of Adolphe Braun, but somehow more puzzling and aggressive.
While I might have preferred to dig into any one of these projects more deeply by seeing a wider selection of images from the same series, this one-of-each style exhibit did successfully highlight a variety of her recent ideas. Having not seen a collection of her work in person before, I came away impressed by both the deceptive depth of her thinking and the quality of her execution. There is evidence of an original artistic voice coming into maturity here, building momentum with each successive project.
- Artist site (here)
- Exhibits: Musée d'Orsay, 2008 (here), Peabody Essex, 2009 (here)
- Review: Time Out (here)
- Feature: Guardian (here)