“What’s in a pink rose? Or a plate of fish? AS Byatt traces the metaphors and illusions that make still lifes so much more than paintings of everday things.”
From The Guardian:
The Old Testament prohibits the making of images of God. Early Christianity saw the whole world of the senses as a snare and a delusion, distracting the soul from the higher world of the Spirit. Plato saw art as an imitation of particular things that were themselves already imitations of some divine and unchanging order of archetypes, the idea of a tree, the idea of a table.
The Stuff of Life, opening at the National Gallery, is an exhibition about the representation of objects, full of surprises both visual and intellectual. It asks the basic question: why make careful representations of things, especially “ordinary” things? And it considers various answers – from things as religious metaphors or symbols, to things as metaphors of human identity, to things as art objects to be studied and things as metaphors of material transience.