Blow Up

Ori Gersht at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston is the Daily Pic by Blake Gopnik

The Daily Pic: Ori Gersht's explosions animate the Old Masters.

(© Ori Gersht / Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

This still is from a video called “Pomegranate”, in the new solo show by Ori Gersht at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. (Click on the image to watch a video clip – or go to the Gersht Web gallery on the Daily Beast.) The Israeli artist is best known for blowing up the fruits and flowers from Old Master still lifes, and screening the results in slow motion. The gesture risks feeling like spectacular schtick, but what saves it, for me, is how it emphasizes the stillness that’s in Gersht’s painted sources. The whole still-life genre gets its force from pausing the action and change that we’re all drowning in. Every still life is secretly cinematic, some version of the freeze-frame. The action in Gersht’s videos helps underline the stasis that we risk taking for granted in painting.

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