Friday, June 17, 2011


James Aponovich
6" x 8", oil on canvas. 2011

This is the take-out that never seems to leave the fridge ( see blog posts for week # 6
and week # 8). My task now is to combine the three elements, fortune cookies, take-out box and bowl of sliced oranges and make it work as one complete and ( gulp !) successful painting.
We'll see.

I should note that this painting might come a bit later since now in the garden the peonies and poppies are in full bloom. That means that I must paint them while I can only to return at some point in the future to finish the canvas. I guess it is like playing chess, its not just the move you are making now, but also what the next three will be. This is also why my studio is full of "paintings in progress".
For a closer look at our garden go to Aponovich and Johansson: At Home and Away

Note: If you look closely at the bowl ( Sliced Oranges in a Bowl) you can see a blue- shirted me.... I painted me because A. I am there and B. it adds another dimension which is the environment outside the painting, as the painting is being painted. Get it?


Pieter Claesz ( Dutch)
Still Life with a Turkey Pie ( detail)
Oil on panel, 1627
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

Still Life with Amaryllis, (detail)
James Aponovich , 2009

Generally a still life painting is a combination of many visual textures, cloth, ceramics, flowers, fruit and metal for example. To a certain degree painting is like cooking, you want to balance different flavors and textures. It relates to what Plato referred to as harmony, a pleasing combination of various elements to create a whole.
In the two details of paintings above, the hard surface of silver is represented. I purposely muted the reflective surface on my sugar bowl, why? Because the still life is set outdoors but the reflection would be indoors( my studio). That being said the reflective surface has fascinated artists ever since the realistic depiction of objects began after the Middle Ages.


Jan Van Eyck (Flemish)
Giovanni Arnolfini and His Bride, 1434
Oil on wood, 32" x 24"
National Gallery, London

This painting is thought to be a wedding contract and it is loaded with symbolism, slippers all over the place, a marriage bed, fruit on the window sill, one candle burning and little fido standing in front of the two people who are not afraid of conspicuous displays of expensive clothing.

Jan Van Eyck

As you look closer you will note on the far wall a convex mirror which reflects the backs of the couple as well as Mr. Van Eyck himself standing in the doorway
witnessing this " for better, for worse" moment.

Diego Velazquez ( Spanish)
Las Meninas, 1656
oil on panel, 10' x 9'
Prado, Madrid

This painting is considered to be the greatest painting by one of the world's greatest
painters, Diego Velazquez. He was First painter and Chief Steward to the Royal Court of Spain under Phillip IV. Good gig!
It's quite a score, what with the Infanta Margarita, maids in waiting, a dwarf, widows, and even Fido again, in front. But don't be fooled, it's all about him, the artist. He stands in front of his canvas dressed to the nines in his "Order of Santiago" smock painting the space that we the viewers inhabit. Well no, not quite. If you look at the back wall (again) you can see a flat mirror and an open doorway with a standing figure. The doorway goes in one direction, out back, but the mirror reflects back to where we are.

Diego Velazquez
Las Meninas (detail)

Reflected in this mirror are none other than the King and Queen of Spain. This ambitious painting illustrates a remarkable manipulation of pictorial space. From the rear exit space spills out of the room into the light beyond. Yet adjacent to the door the reflection portrays the Royal couple in the space that we inhabit, beyond the confines of the canvas. In the middle of it all stands the individual who creates and controls all this space like a ringmaster, the artist Diego Velazquez.

Art does not exist in a bubble. Many outside influences affect an artist's vision and in turn shapes the vision of humanity. This interrelatedness of influence is evident in that Las Meninas was painted only sixteen years after the death of the Italian, Galileo, who with his telescope looked out to the heavens and forever changed and advanced our concept of space.

copyright 2011 James Aponovich

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