David Czupryn has described Poison Club as a still life. One can see it as greatly connected to his early work as a sculptor and the origin of his painting practice in representing the objects he made. Here, alongside the products of his own imagination, he reinvents works by other artists: transforming an Isa Genzken transmitter and a Paul Noble drawing into trompe l’oeil marble.
Czupryn demonstrates his usual expertise in painting surfaces. His meticulous depiction of the various textures of wood, stone, and foliage are combined with objects whose materials are undefinable. Everything takes on a hyper-realistic sheen comparable to a digital illustration, so eerily precise are Czupryn’s invisible brushstrokes. Poison Club is a display of the artist’s virtuosity in the tradition of Dutch Golden Age flower paintings.
In seventeenth century Dutch art this verisimilitude was tied to the ambivalence that surrounded images. On the one hand, images were revered as a source of knowledge in the culture of scientific observation. However, they were simultaneously deceitful, a distrust born out of the Protestant critique of images: Dutch still lives sought to draw attention to the fact that everything the viewer saw was only the surface appearance rather than divine essence of any object. Czupryn’s pristine surfaces also display the trickiness of images: however, his is a more postmodern predicament.
The bouquet takes on the quality of a hallucination, growing out of terrifying depths with rapid speed. Czupryn’s cautionary tale is not against Catholic superstition or mercantile wealth, but against a bad trip. The painting was inspired by a Düsseldorf club notorious for its drug-addled nights. Taking hold of this dark quality, Czupryn has crafted a rich and complex image: part critique and part taboo desire.