Still Life

Glass & Check Oval: Oval Plate II, 38 x 72.5 cm
Glass & Check Oval: One Plate, 38 x 72.5 cm

In the ‘table’ pictures Janet Boulton looks like a Cubist, deconstructing the binocular delusion of single vision, applying different projections to items in the same picture. Increasingly the planar view gives rise to some of her most arresting, and most nearly abstract, single forms and small groups: a dessert dish may be described only by the contour of its fluted lip overlapping slightly that of its shadow, a crescent highlight referring to a reflection in the bowl, or to the root of a stem. The chequers of the tablecloth are rendered with strict geometry and devoid of perspective, but light changes the key of their hues: a bright area, oval or rhomboid, is created in the centre of the picture, within which all individual shapes are locked into composition, negative spaces managed to the millimetre. The aesthetic is difficult to characterise: hardly hard-edged but controlled, clear; at the rim of abstraction, coolly contemplating the view.

Elizabeth James, Modern Painters, Spring 1997