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An Artist's Eye: Portia Munson

'It's a time capsule of a moment'

In a new series, artists exhibiting at Frieze London selected works at Frieze Masters that spoke to them. Portia Munson – whose Pink Project: Table (1994) was exhibited by P.P.O.W. (Frieze London B19) – chose a still life (c.1615) by Jacob van Hulsdonck, exhibited on the stand of Johnny Van Haeften (Frieze Masters E4).

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Jacob van Hulsdonck, A Still Life... (c.1615). Courtesy: Johnny van Haeften, London

Jacob van Hulsdonck, A Still Life with with Artichokes, Radishes, Asparagus, Plums, Cherries and Peaches in a Basket, together with a Ham and Pig’s Trotters on pewter Plates, a Herring, a Tongue and some Butter on blue-and-white Dishes, Mulberries in a blue-and-white Bowl, a Knife, Bread, Grapes and a Lemon with a broken berkemeyer Glass, all on a Table partly covered by a white Cloth (c.1615). Courtesy: Johnny van Haeften, London.

What speaks to me in this piece is this sense that it’s the ephemera of the day - of a day. It captures what these people were eating and seeing, what was in the house at this moment in time. It’s kind of a time capsule of a moment. In my work, that’s what I am trying to capture also: a time capsule, but of our present, when our objects are plastic.

This painting tells us about life in its culture and allows us a view of people's everyday experience - what food was eaten, from what dishes and bowls, even the way they cut and served their meat. I love the detail - the fly on the plant, the bugs on the leaves, the glass is broken. Because it’s everyday it’s very familiar, but it’s also remote. We can’t really know if the cherries were quite that colour, or why, or how common it was to serve the meat with the bone pointing out like that. I am hoping that in the same way my work will one day be looked on with the same strangeness - that plastic will one day be seen as weirdly as these objects.

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Portia Musson, Pink Project: Table (1994). Courtesy: the artist and P.P.O.W., New York. Photo: Linda Nylind, courtesy of Frieze

Portia Musson, Pink Project: Table (1994). Courtesy: the artist and P.P.O.W., New York. Photo: Linda Nylind, courtesy of Frieze

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