Considered to be one of the parents of modern painting, Caravaggio’s work work became popular for the tenebrism technique he used. It’s known for using shadow to emphasize lighter areas. Tenebroso in Italian means dark, gloomy, mysterious. This use of light is fascinating. It is sometimes called a ‘violent transition between light and dark’.
This contrast appeals to me. I remember seeing my first Caravaggio in a battered art history book. My favorite being Judith Beheading Holofernes. Poor Caravaggio. He has such a bad boy reputation, but look at his work!
So in my own practice I find myself trying to use shadows and darkness to make still life look vivid. Is there a place in contemporary art for tenebrism? Novalis said, ‘The artist belongs to his work, not the work to the artist.’ Caravaggio belongs to this work. The work is dark, mysterious, and violent (like the artist) but it’s also illuminatingly beautiful.