Beetles and Huxley are delighted to present the first major UK exhibition of Paulette Tavormina. Sumptuous, luscious and haunting, Tavormina’s photography is much more than just natura morta (‘dead nature’). Deriving from a set of influences that owes more to the art of the seventeenth century than that of the present, Tavormina’s work takes precedent from the ‘Golden Age’ of still life painting.
As she has said: ‘I have long been drawn to the seventeenth century Old Master still life painters Giovanna Garzoni, Francesco de Zurbarán, and Adriaen Coorte. I am particularly fascinated by Zurbarán’s mysterious use of dramatic light, Garzoni’s masterful compositions and colour palette, and Coorte’s unique placement of objects.’ Rather than recreating Old Master paintings in photographic form, Tavormina’s enchanting images use the compositional subtlety and metaphoric complexities of the genre to produce tableaux rich with timeless symbolism and mystery. Ripe fruits and wilting flowers overflow from bowls, plates and tables, teetering on the precipice between life and death.
Sometimes spending an entire week on the meticulous arrangement and photographing of her compositions, Tavormina fastidiously pulls together the visual and symbolic connections between quotidian objects to produce images of powerful emotional resonance. Featuring works from her series Natura Mortura and Bodegón, this summer’s retrospective of Tavormina’s photographs will show her work to be part of a trend in contemporary photography towards reclaiming genres of art that have previously been the reserve of more traditional mediums.
A self-taught photographer, Tavormina photographs works of art for Sotheby’s, New York, and was previously a prop and food stylist in Hollywood. Her work has been exhibited by galleries in Paris, London, New York, Los Angeles, Boston and Chicago, and is held by museums including the Alimentarium, Musée de l’Alimentation, Vevey, Switzerland; the Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida; and the Snite Museum of Art, Notre Dame University, Indiana. She lives and works in New York City.
The artist will be present at the exhibition opening on 30 June.