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The Garden of Eden

Stanley Pinker

In 'The Garden of Eden', Pinker provides the viewer with a pared down, Cubist-inspired Adam and Eve who lock eyes sharply above an abundance of sensuous floral forms. At first glance, this appears an idyllic scene, but the reference to the Garden of Eden locates the viewer in an uncomfortable position of dramatic irony; the awareness of a loss which is both imminent and irretrievable. An ambience poised between darkness and light, innocence and knowledge, is invoked by the starkly contrasting background colours. As the artist relates in an interview with Michael Stevenson: "Essentially the flat background does the footwork in my paintings; it is usually a base colour, or colours, and it sets the mood... In each case it is with the background that it all begins. It is my first concern, long before I start with the detail. The components of the imagery then assert themselves on the flat space in terms of their shape, line and colour".

The subjects and objects recontextualised in this latter-day paradise become what curator of the South African National Gallery (which boasts several Pinkers in its collection), Hayden Proud, refers to as "the dramatis personae of his art. Populating the shallow stage of his format, they become suspended in a pictorial realm of studied whimsy, interlocking and fusing to become potent metaphors".

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