Still life as a genre has been a source of fascination since first viewing Pieter Claesz Vanitas with the Spinario. Offering the viewer a static representation of the fleeting nature of indulgences in varying stages of decay evokes emotion. Regret, optimism, futility, desire, fear, aesthetics, sound, and taste are presented strewn about as if left behind suddenly. This disheveled presentation further exposes the transience of existence and futility in maintaining order as entropy resumes its natural position. Had Siddhartha Gautama been in the discussion, he might have asked them to consider the next steps.
Neil Christensen's art expands the boundaries of light in still life with a largely optimistic and playful lens. As mentioned in his biography, he creates a space of serenity in a medium and manner that heretofore had been associated with transient indulgence. The choice in colors and themes often incorporates fruit, flowers, candy, fire, and gift bags directs the viewer toward a more eupeptic state.
"Neil Christensen (b. 1947, Imperial, Nebraska)
I am a painter of still life. I choose objects to paint that have interesting colors and shapes, or have symbolic or personal significance to me. I select the lighting like a stage manager to set the mood, usually with strong light for dramatic effect.
I use alkyd paints because their fast drying nature allows for quick edits and layering of paint. As the painting progresses, color schemes need adjusting and mistakes need correcting. In this way, the painting begins to evolve and take on a life of its own.
My biggest influence in painting has been professor James Eisentrager. He stressed the importance of the structure of a painting, the ordering of the elements of painting, such as color, line and shape. He would diagram the paintings of Vermeer, Cezanne, and Diebenkorn to illustrate his point.
My painting teachers were abstract artists. I am a self taught representational painter. I enjoy that learning process which is a never-ending challenge. I present a piece of my visual world where I find a sense of serenity. Ordinary objects can take on extra significance when presented with a solemn reverence. My goal with each painting is to find a bit of visual truth."