New works by Nethery Wylie I make lush oil paintings of the rot and decay in my compost bin to highlight the transformation of “dead” plant matter into sustenance for new life. The pieces of kitchen discards and garden waste overlap and intermingle, and their forms slowly merge into rich darkness.
After working with many other media, I return with this series to the subject, the natural world, and the materials, intense transparent pigments, that first lured me into painting.
The history of still life as an art genre is rife with the theme of death. Webster’s Dictionary defines “still life” as “a picture consisting predominantly of inanimate objects.” Medieval and Renaissance traditions often used skulls to invoke the idea of death and the transience of earthly life. The phrase for still life in Italian is “natura morte” or dead nature. In these paintings, I insist on the opposite. Decaying leaves and fruits are not ephemera to be discarded but rich sources of food and structure for the soil, the skin of our planet.