the dinner table
(Meal kit revisited)
This 48”x48” mixed media on canvas includes acrylic paints, old maps, pages from cook books, photographs and sketches by the artist, lace and other textiles, and various ephemera, including labels from spices and other food products, printed papers and charcoal. The composition, reminiscent of a classical Dutch still life, invites the viewer to a contemplative exploration of identity, heritage and the interplay between the past and the future.
The table captures the essence of the preparation of a meal, something French chefs call “mise en place” meaning “put in place” for having all ingredients ready for cooking. Items include: A bowl of fruit, eggs, a basket of vegetables, a cooking pot, bottles (suggestive of wine, oil or vinegar,) preserve jars, a mortar and pestle, chestnuts, eggplant, zucchini flowers, and a lace tablecloth—each element arranged as part of a classical still life painting yet presented in a contemporary mix of collaged papers, thick impasto paint applications, drips, scrapes and charcoal outlines.
This dichotomy of a classical composition and contemporary technique serves as a visual metaphor for the evolving nature of culinary heritage—where time-honoured traditions strive to persist in a modern context.
Overall, the painting underscores the transformative power of shared meals. Food is an important part of our being. It is not just for sustenance, nutrition or the literal good taste, but it has continued to be what gathers us together.