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Evelyne Politanoff

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Pantagruelian And Decadent -- Mary Ellen Johnson's Paintings Of Big Food

Posted: 02/15/2012 12:15 pm

Food is a wonderful subject for an artist. It is sensual, comforting, tempting, it sustains life, and it can make us die. Mary Ellen Johnson utilizes all of these aspects in her paintings. She paints to stir visceral and psychological impulses in the viewer. When viewed from afar, Johnson's paintings are remarkably photorealistic.

Mary Ellen Johnson prepares most of all the subjects she paints, and uses real food. For the American artist size matters. It matters a lot:

I make the panels large to give a monumental feeling to the painting when viewed. These large images not only confront the viewer with their size, but with their tremendous sense of extravagance. The dripping syrup, mounds of cream, lusciously ripe fruit, and huge serving portions...

These extravagant images are sure to cause stomachs to growl:

My work explores the deep connection that food has with humanity. I find the subtle and yet not so subtle power it possesses fascinating. My paintings delve into the complicated and curious relationship that we have developed with food throughout our existence.

Mary Ellen Johnson lives and works in Hartsville, South Carolina.

These are not just paintings of big food, they are portraits of gargantuan decadency.

BIG Food
Mary Ellen Johnson

Courtesy Mary Ellen Johnson
Images, copyright of Mary Ellen Johnson

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