I was astounded by the extreme realism of these paintings by Tom Pfannerstill. Each of them shows a piece of trash, which are all easily recognizable consumer products like Starbucks coffee cups and Goldfish cracker packages. The artist based each image in the series From the Street on a real piece of trash he found. He then cut each shape from wood and painted it in painstaking detail with acrylic paints. These works use the technique of trompe l’oeil, which creates the illusion that the flat painting is a is three dimensional object. You can see the many folds and creases in the smashed cardboard and metal trash, and I was admittedly fooled the first time I saw the paintings (thinking they were simply photographs of the trash).
While the packages are mass produced, each piece of trash is uniquely changed by the time it reached the artist, and this is the story he wants to convey:
“Mechanical geometric precision is altered by organic twists, bends and folds … The sparkling clean surfaces are smudged and marked by everyday dirt, grit and grime. No two objects have exactly the same journey,” Pfannerstill said.
Because of changes in the use, design, and marketing of these products, they may also become an “archaeological artefact” in the future.
“As time inevitably marches on and everything, trash included, continues to change, my little pieces ‘from the street’ will become increasingly ‘of a time.’ As the popularity of products ebb and flow and certain products disappear altogether as wants, needs and lifestyles change, they will become increasingly esoteric,” the artist said in his statement.