Art no PC can match

Sophie Dunlop - New Paintings

By: Axia Modem Art, 1010 Hight Street, Armadale

Reviewer: Jeff Makin

Talent is not always inherited from your parents, but in the case of Sophie Dunlop, daughter of distinguished realist Brian Dunlop, there is an uncanny similarity of touch and choice of subject matter.

Like her father, Dunlop has chosen one of the most exacting of the realist genres, still life.

Such works are instantly comparable to giants in the history of art such as Zurbaran, Chardin, Manet, and contemporary painters such as Andrew Wyeth and Avigdor Arkia.

As a result, this field is littered with wannabes, the bitter and twisted, and those who simply gave up.

Some turn to conceptual and performance art, others to abstraction, because realism is simply too difficult.

Some would argue that in the past-modern digital age, hand-painted realism is irrelevant and will quickly tap you up something out of the hyperspace.

But it's not the same.

Look at those apples by Zurbaran, Chardin, even Cezanne, and feel the throb of energy that the artist has engendered into one of nature's humblest fruits. The computer can't do that,  So any artist intent on making this field their own has a lot to contend with.

While nature itself doesn't change, artist's interpretations do, in spite of setting out to capture the same thing.

Neither of the Dunlops paints with the weight and deep volume of a Zurbaran. There is not the uncertain tessellation of Cezanne, or the hesitant stroke of another famous painter of apples, Giacometti.

Instead there is a careful deliberation, an orderly sense of placement and a shallow illusion of space.

Sophie Dunlop's form is more flatly rendered than her father's, the drawing less questioning, as one might expect from a younger hand.  There is a more equal distribution of focus, particularly in the triptychs of pink and green fruit with elaborately patterned drapes used to define the depth of field.

Her sparser compositions, such as I, are more successful.  There is not the unnecessary division into three sections of a triptych; nor is there the competition for compositional dominance between decorative backdrop and main subject.

Introduction of translucent glass also offers a welcome contrast (a lightness) to the opacity of the jug and ripeness of the fruit.  It is still in a key of French master Chardin, but, as in music, where interpreters of Debussy and Mozart achieve distinction for their touches of innovation, so may painters like Dunlop.