Amy Wilke has been known in the past for her wonderful cut-paper works, but more and more recently she has been letting us see her equally marvelous talent for clean, hyper-detailed ink drawings. Paired with her whimsical and macabre subject matter, her rich and delicate linework will have you staring raptly at each piece for minutes upon hours. There’s always more to discover. But don’t take my word for it, have a look at these pieces from her “Still Lives: Wunderkabinett” show.
I was reminded of this amazing show a few days ago when I saw one of Amy’s pieces over at a friend’s house. The show actually took place last year, but since 2014 was a very busy freelance year for me I haven’t been able to document it properly until now.
When I first saw the show I was immediately reminded of the concept of studiolo, something a former art history prof of mine told me about long ago. The studiolo (or “study”) was a special room that was richly appointed with interesting and mysterious paintings, myriad books, curiosities, tools of science and writing, and objects d’art. The room’s function was to serve as a place for a learned man to sit musing or contemplating deep and interesting things. He would turn over the room’s curiosities in his hands, examine a book or skull or sculpture, and perhaps come away with a new understanding of some minute aspect of our universe.
It came as no suprise when I went to find the meaning of “Wunderkabinett” that it was basically the German counterpart of the Italian studiolo, a “cabinet of wonders” that contained strange and interesting objects that invited the owner to handle and contemplate them in quiet moments.
The insects, skulls and other curiosities in these delicate and exacting drawings bring to mind that same appreciation and worship of the natural world, while at the same time underlining how beautifully disturbing and uncanny it can really be. Every cell and and scale is lovingly imagined, giving almost infinite facets to these gems. I think these particular pieces might all be sold by now, but you are always welcome to check out Amy at Paper Raven Art + Design and see what she has brewing now…or even better, commission something of your very own.