best before mars bar in a jar

Best Before

13.06.19 - 04.08.19

Stephen Johnston

The Naughton Gallery is proud to present Best Before, a solo exhibition of prints by Stephen Johnston (b. 1987, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland), primarily focused on his hyperrealist paintings of glass jars containing a variety of foodstuffs, from fruit and fish to recognisable confectionery including Mars, Twix, and Maltesers.

In this body of work, Johnston subverts many of the traditions associated with still life painting and presents his subject matter in unfamiliar ways – in jars or painted over in vibrant pastel tones – deconstructing the objects from their recognisable connotations and building new relationships with the meaning they once held.

These vivid images deal with the subject of mortality and reveal how Johnston sees all still life as a comment on death.  He presents food slowly decaying in glass jars, burnt bottles, deconstructed cakes in jars, and a bowl full of roadkill.  The veneer of vibrant colour is juxtaposed by the fact that we are in fact witnessing decay, and the freshness of Johnston’s subjects is merely superficial.

Johnston graduated with a BA in Fine and Applied Arts from the University of Ulster, Belfast, in 2010, and has exhibited in Belfast, Dublin, Paris, Brisbane, and London, most notably at the Saatchi Gallery. He has twice been a finalist for the National Gallery of Ireland’s prestigious Hennessy Portrait Award, and his work is held in the collections of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Queen’s University Belfast, and numerous private art collections around the world.

Related Events

THU 13 JUN 2019, 5:30-8pm

With Marion Hawkes on the decks, join us for an evening of wine and art. Enjoy being amongst the first to see BEST BEFORE. Entry is free and refreshments provided, all are welcome!


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