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Chris Flodberg Revisits ‘Matters of Denial’ series on a More Personal Level

March 30, 2011

Irreverent, confident, serious, ironic, determined, playful, sophisticated. All of these words may be used to describe the large-scale images produced by Calgary artist Chris Flodberg. Graduating from ACAD and University of Alberta, with his BFA and MA, respectively, Chris’s work explores human compulsion and its relentless desire for excess and decadence.

 

Why are we fascinated by overabundance and the visual richness of extraordinary profusion? In 2004, Chris began a series of works to answer this question. Called ‘Matters of Denial’, it focused on the age-old genre of still life. Cakes, lobster, fish, roasted pig and other spectacularly rich foods, carefully arranged and fore-grounded among opulent and palatial backdrops. At first glance, they are highly illusionistic works whose polish and prowess would be right at home among the works from the Dutch Golden Age at the Rijksmuseum. Yet a closer look reveals, that these seemingly innocuous banquet scenes are far more cunning than any realistic record of fresh food could ever be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Flodberg, Born and Bread II, 6’ x 5’ oil on canvas

Look closer and everything is disheveled, pushed around, picked through. It is as if a band of thankless, prodigal teenagers tore through each arrangement, despoiling them and taking something here, a bit more there – unconscionably wasteful.  On one hand they are Vanitas scenes, that is works which remind of the fleeting nature of pleasure and its inherent anology to the transience of human mortality. On the other they are visual prods, intended to rouse the viewer to consider his or her own susceptibility to extravagance. The viewer’s first reaction: frustration. How could someone be so blatantly prodigal? Who would do such a thing? Who would have so few manners, so little decency? Profligates!

It has been several years since Chris has returned to the ‘Matters of Denial ‘ series. Yet recently, and fittingly, he could not resist temptation. Using a brush stroke that is as richly laden as the still life objects he represents, Chris has brought to life the very people who would be ‘dining’ at these tables.  In Chris’s painted vision of the world, everything has come to an end. Apocalypse has begun, if that’s what you choose to call it. Though not meant to be understood in a rigidly religious sense, but in terms of human progress. We have taken all we can and the world refuses to supply us with anymore lest we give back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Flodberg, ‘Hooded Man’ 48″x48″ oil on canvas
Chris’ apocalyptic vision cares little about the narrative of redemption so central to religious traditions. Conversely, it is about how far we are willing to be faithful to our desires. When we look at the faces of Chris’ subjects we look into the eyes of souls who have nothing to lose. In ‘Hooded Man’ we are confronted with a clownish looking figure with a bizarre and camp ornamental headdress. He stares blankly toward us; his expression conveys a trance like preoccupation suggestive of an altered state. In ‘Party Girl’ a beautiful girl catches our eye. With full lips and veiled but deep green eyes, she responds with a haughty and sardonic glare revealing that her appearance is a façade and can be stripped away as quickly as the gossamer veil that covers her eyes.  As a series of works they are the rogues and rogues and sybarites which populate the inhabited world of the ‘Matters of Denial’ works. Like Marc Antony and Cleopatra before the Battle of Actium, they try and dissuade fate  with an excess for sensuousness and luxury, but what they await is a power unwilling to reconcile. They eat, become intoxicated, ravish each other, for what it’s worth, they are wealthy beyond belief and they roam unchecked among a world conscious that they, like it, have come to an end.

Chris’ new series “Inhabitants” may be seen at Masters Gallery Ltd. from March 15-June 25th. For more information please contact Masters Gallery Ltd., www.mastersgalleryltd.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chris Flodberg, ‘Party Girl’ 4’ x 3.5” oil on canvas

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