So why would one, or more precisely I, want to make still life paintings in 2021? I have asked myself this question quite often lately but have yet to find a good answer. Not only do still life painting seem a bit … old fashioned?! The still life has in fact always been regarded as minor art, a form of decoration, women’s art…! And so why would someone well educated, and supposedly in their right mind, turn to this genre today?
The only viable answer I have come up with this far, is that this turn, for me, is not a request from my rational mind, but an invitation from my soul. Painting is a calling, not a job to be done like any other task. A way to understand a bit more about this dilemma (sense versus sensibility) can be found in the writings of Jungian analyst James Hollis:
Many decades ago, Jung differentiated the two major stages of life, with many sub-passages within each. The first is about ego building. What do I need to learn, do, risk to step into the world—the world of relationship, the world of work, the world of adult responsibilities? But somewhere else we have another appointment with ourselves, in which we ask other questions: What is my life about, really? What do I need to do to live in good faith with my own soul? In the first half of life, we are ego-bound to ask, What does the world want of me, and how do I meet that demand? In the second half of life, we have a different question: What does the soul ask of me. (“Soul” is, of course, a metaphor for what is most truly us, as opposed to those thousand, thousand adaptations the world asks of us).
I still don’t know why my soul wants me to go in this direction, but at least I’m listening …