Caryn Scrimgeour: A Word is Not a Sparrow


Caryn Scrimgeour: A Word is Not a Sparrow
Nov 15 – Dec 21, 2019

Everard Read London presents

Caryn Scrimgeour: A Word is Not a Sparrow

15 November - 21 December 2019

South African artist, Caryn Scrimgeour's paintings are obsessively immaculate – a result of intense attention to detail and an extraordinary command of her palette.

Her table settings intrigue and fascinate by juxtaposing fragile and precious curios with commonplace objects, each exquisitely rendered. Rich in symbolism, her work is reminiscent of still life paintings from the Dutch Golden Age. Scrimgeour creates an almost abstract interplay between the objects and the richly patterned fabric, while the use of bird’s-eye perspective creates a contemporary context for a very traditional genre.

These are vanitas paintings for our age: they hint gently at the fragility and transitory nature of the human construct. Similarly, the fragments recorded are small monuments to the human desire to leave what Antony Gormley describes as “a trace of our living and dying on the face of an indifferent universe.”*

The absence of humans – aside from the occasional reflection of the artist – makes these works all the more poignant, as do the unlikely protagonists: the harlequin collection of delicately-patterned china; the bone-handled cutlery alongside disposable chopsticks in their paper wrapper; the lavishly painted teabag; the burnt match; the glistening fig.

According to Scrimgeour, “The constantly changing positions of the cutlery and other objects suggests a shifting and an evolution in what we see as sacred or fundamental to our core beliefs. For instance, an empty place setting, may symbolise a loss of self, emptiness or missed opportunities.”

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* Antony Gormley, interview with the Financial Times, 2015