Still Life With Aubergines And Cucumber is a print by Julian Opie from his 2001 Still Life series that shows a cucumber and three aubergines set against a flattened, black backdrop. Arranged in a seemingly random composition, this print is a simple but striking still life scene that combines Opie’s graphic visual language with the canonical styles of art history.
Still Life With Aubergines And Cucumber is reminiscent of 17th century Dutch still life painting in its allusion to realism and starkly contrasted dark background. Indeed, Opie has been interested in engaging with the traditions of art history throughout his entire career, notably in his works A Pile of Old Masters (1983) and Eat Dirt, Art History (1983). With this print, Opie presents a twenty-first century version of the classic art historical genre through his use of computer technology, saturated colour and simplified form.
Telling of Opie’s key links and reference to 17th century art historical genres and styles, the artists’ work was presented in dialogue with Van Dyck’s self-portrait in the 17th century galleries of the National Portrait Gallery in 2017. Curator at the National Portrait Gallery Catherine MacLeod has said, “Julian Opie’s work references historical portraiture, and has often used compositional devices employed by seventeenth-century artists.”