oxidized silver, enamel, wax - Edition of 28 [+ 2 APS], 2021
Trompe l’oeil device taps into our visceral responses by “infesting” the typical white walls of a gallery with a swarm of bugs. These sculptures are scaled slightly larger than life, to allow space for an illusion of reality to break. Flies are often a symbol or death or plague. These sculptures were first installed in Fact or Fiction (2021, COOPER COLE) a year after the pandemic was announced.
Trompe l’oeil device brings into context the story of Giotto’s fly. In Giorgio Vasari’s “Lives” (1550) – It is written that while Giotto was studying under Cimabue in Florence, he painted an extremely realistic fly on the nose of a completed portrait by Cimabue. Upon returning to the studio, Cimabue attempted to shoo the fly away numerous times before realizing he has been tricked by Giotto’s ability to render such a likeness to the real thing.
Vasari was known to be a skilled storyteller, and it is suspected that he was capable of embellishing narrative at the expense of truth. I like to speculate on what it means if this anecdote was made up. Could the purpose of this story be a device for communicating an ideology, and if so, then what?