Still life painting has often had an allegorical agenda. The resplendent, sometimes picked-over spreads in 17th-century Dutch still lifes could be read as a moral injunction against gluttony. Other still lifes of the era, featuring skulls and rotten food, cautioned viewers about life’s quick passage. Rendered with lush hyper-realism, these works pull you in with their loveliness before they pierce you with their message.
Tara Sellios, a young photographer, takes her inspiration from such paintings, prodding at the intersection between sumptuous and gruesome in her show “Lessons of Impermanence’’ at Suffolk University Art Gallery. Sellios, who received a bachelor’s degree from the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University in 2010, doesn’t always hit the mark with her large-scale color photos, but when she does, the results are hair-raising.