FKA Twigs by Stella Ishack

Stella Ishack’s prints aptly demonstrate the combination of the modern and the traditional that we at the Lot 5 Collective believe in. She combines pencil drawing, watercolours and Photoshop to produce unique, dynamic, modern images of contemporary subjects. We talked to her about her work ‘FKA Twigs’.

Photography and painting

In 1856, Théophile Gautier praised photography and how it enabled artists such as Jean-Léon Gérôme to paint Orientalist images that had an absolute fidelity to real life. Gérôme and Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi (who would later design the Statue of Liberty) had recently returned from a voyage to the Middle East with over a hundred photographs, and Gautier assumed – as you or I might – that Gérôme’s highly detailed, highly finished works represented the reality of life in the Middle East. But the relationship between Gérôme’s photographs and his paintings isn’t quite so simple. Gérôme was one of the first artists to use photographic references as a tool to construct seemingly real scenes from his imagination, and was also one of the first artists whose use of photography was misunderstood. These two traditions started almost from photography’s invention in the 1830s and continue today.

Dental Dance by Sally Jane Fuerst

Sally Jane Fuerst’s works are not what they seem. If you glance at her paintings on the screen of your phone you might misread them as photographs, but take a closer look or – even better – see them in real-life and it’s clear that they’re beautifully and traditionally painted. A casual look might also trick you into thinking that they’re light-hearted images of attractive women with inflatable props, but they’re far more than that. Although Sally Jane herself encourages a playful interpretation of her work, look under the surface and you find a darker, deeper, scarier world. We talked to Sally Jane about her painting ‘Dental Dance’.

Heart by Helen Masacz

You’ve probably seen a hundred, a thousand, still-lifes on the walls of museums and galleries: rows and rows of static, serene and beautifully painted arrangements of everyday objects. But you’ve certainly never seen anything quite like Helen Masacz’s painting Heart. At one level it’s traditional – a representational oil painting of meat, grapes and wine on white linen – but within those boundaries Helen’s interpretation is radical and innovative. It is the antithesis – both in terms of content and composition – of the classical still life: viewed from above, brutally cropped, violently bloody and dramatically composed, it’s a visual punch in the guts. We loved this painting so much we decided to ask Helen a few questions about it.

Farhan by Luca Indraccolo

Voltaire once said that the secret of being boring was to say everything. The same holds true in art, both at a technical and a conceptual level. Great artists don’t paint every hair on somebody’s head or every pore on their skin: they suggest, and leave our imaginations to fill in the gaps. Similarly, their paintings don’t tell us explicitly what we’re supposed to think: instead, they leave us free to imagine and contemplate. Sometimes it’s infuriatingly impossible to understand a painting: academic debates have raged for over 80 years about the meaning of Jan van Eyck’s Arnolfini Portrait and nobody really knows why the barmaid’s reflection in Manet’s A Bar at the Folies-Bergère is in the place it is.

Luca Indraccolo’s paintings tantalise in this way. Although it’s obvious what they represent at one level (a naked woman on a garbage heap, or a man slaughtering an eel), they have a depth and an ambiguity to them which makes their contemplation rewarding. We talked to Luca about ‘Farhan’, one of his portraits.

Vol-au-vent by Lizet Dingemans

If you visit the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and go to the top floor you’ll find a room with a couple of small still lifes by Édouard Manet. Although they’re tiny – only six inches tall – these paintings of a single lemon and an asparagus hold their own in a room full of larger works of more exotic subjects by Sisley, Camille Pissarro, Renoir and Cézanne. There’s something spell-binding about finding beauty in the mundane, and it takes a skillful painter to do it.

We asked Lizet Dingemans a few questions about her painting ‘Vol-au-vent’. She talked to us about what inspires her, and why she enjoys painting works like these.