Engaging with the canonical styles of art history, Still Life With Chestnuts And Leek is a print from Julian Opie’s Still Life series from 2001. The print shows an image of a leek lying horizontally next to a pile of chestnuts in a closely cut composition, set against a black backdrop. In its traditional composition, allusion to realism and starkly contrasted dark background, this print is reminiscent of 17th century Dutch still life painting.
Since the mid-1990s, Opie has explored the principles of modular variation across artistic media and art historical genres. The artist’s Still Life series is indicative of this investigation, with prints consisting of similar titles, each with the same horizontal composition, and the use of fruit and vegetables interchanged in each print. Opie emphasises art as a commodity in his replication of post-industrial modes of production and exposes the dehumanising effects of computer technology.
Brightly coloured and shiny, the fruit and vegetables depicted by Opie in this series appear almost synthetic, without any signs of irregularity or damage. Through the artificial nature of the chestnuts and leek represented, Opie parallels this with his methods and style of working that defy the presence of the artist’s hand.