Classical still life updated as Chapter and Emma Bennett present Thief of Time

Welsh artist Emma Bennett’s hauntingly beautiful paintings contemplate human frailty, our place in the cosmos and the nature of the image suspended in time.

Also commissioned by Chapter as part of the Cardiff International Festival of Photography, Diffusion, taking place this month (read our Preview), the exhibition centres on classical themes of the organic and existential in a modern context.

Appropriating imagery from historical Dutch and Italian painting, Bennett’s pieces depict perfect floral bouquets, ripened fruit, and the lifeless bodies of game, echoing the historical schools of still life painting.

Bennett’s style and allegorical compositions evoke painters like Caravaggio and artists from the Flemish school. But the definitive lack of backdrop gives her paintings a strange, almost New Age energy that speaks of uncertainty and spiritual potential.

The artist says that an awareness of Susan Sontag’s take on photography has influenced her work; the idea that taking a photograph

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