Still Life with Fruit

Still Life with Fruit, Acrylic on linen, 24" x 36"

Anyone who knows me knows I don’t paint realism very often. I have this opinion that that is why I have a camera. I don’t feel like I am terribly gifted in that area, instead I am better at getting my point across with abstraction. That’s just me, I know lots of talented realist artists who feel otherwise and it shows strongly in their art.

This being said one of my latest paintings, “Still Life with Fruit” is painted using realism. In fact, I was attempting to draw on the Dutch Style of still life, which uses super-realism, extreme lighting and sometimes bends reality to a more pleasing image. I felt it was important to touch on the ideas once used in the dutch style to emphasis my own message. The abundance, the richness and the cup floweth over ideas in the dutch style, I hoped, would serve to point out the empty and desolate image in my own still life.

It was important to also emphasis abundance as waste. The paper towel with its rolls falling off the table refer to the opulent folds, shadows and subtle colors of the fabric usually seen in Dutch style, only here it is disposable and useful only once and falling wasted onto the floor.

Still Life with a Chinese Porcelain Jar, Willem Kalf, 1669

The “fruit” in the still life is actually a strawberry flavored fruit roll up, which if you read the ingredients contains no strawberry and very little fruit at all.   I unwrapped the roll-up and let it fall off the edge of the table. The tension of gravity I hope adds to the immediacy of the painting as well as reminding the viewer of the two dimensional plane of the canvas. Also, in many still life’s from the Dutch period , a lemon was often depicted peeled and allowed to hang thought to represent the bitter sweetness of life. In this case it’s the sacrin overly sticky sweetness of the candy that is the metaphor.

Finally, the empty blue bowl between the fruit and the paper towel roll. Traditionally, a fruit bowl in any still life would be full of abundant fruit, flowers, vegetables, bread and what have you. However, here I left it empty and very dark in the middle.

The crux of the idea being waste is not abundance, fake food has replaced real nutritious and satisfying food; all our fruit bowls are empty. I also hope to impart a ray of hope! This bowl is empty, but it is still there, ready and waiting to be filled. It is not just barren it is an opportunity.