Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Boston Globe's Art Critic Reviews Aponovich 52

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

In today's edition of The Boston Globe
Art Critic Cate McQuaid
reviews APONOVICH 52

"the exhibit pulls back the curtain on the artist's process."

"the blog reveals the sweat, anxiety, and thought that went into his work."

Cate McQuaid
The Boston Globe

Chinese Fortune Cookies / week # 6

...." But Aponovich, in his new show at Clark Gallery, steps gamely into the 21st Century."

Cate McQuaid

Strawberries, Tuscany/ week #35

"his strawberries glisten delectably..."

Cate McQuaid
Boston Globe

A few quotes from the review, but please read the full review.

where you will find the entire
Boston Globe review of Aponovich 52 by Cate McQuaid.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

WGBH Arts: James Aponovich: A 52 Week Painting Marathon

Still Life with Blue Hydrangea
James Aponovich
Aponovich 52 / Week # 20

Follow the link below for an online WGBH Arts Review of APONOVICH 52

Thursday, June 28, 2012

THE SHOW IS UP.........Now What?

Critic's Tip
Boston Globe G Calendar Magazine
June 28, 2012

Often, a one-person exhibition is sort of a let down. Shows are usually scheduled a couple of years out and what follows is a lot of work, mostly in solitude. Then the show is hung for a month or so. It is now time to take account of what's hanging, first, is it any good? Is it cohesive? Does it show progress and perhaps indicate new avenues of expression? Or, is it just the same old, same old? Fortunately, I don't have to make these determinations.I have tried to illustrate the thinking process during the A52 year. To my surprise, a great many people have been following the blog, for that I am flattered and grateful. Several have suggested that it be made into a book, others have requested
I continue on the road to my next show.....maybe, but you know it's a lot of work.

For more information on the Aponovich 52 exhibit go to:

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Show Goes Up...............

"With APONOVICH 52, James has entered a new terrain for painters of his genre. With his strict conceptual time-based premise of completing one painting each week during the past year, his painting methodology become part performance, part ritual and part obsession. In directing all of his thoughts and efforts to complete a painting each week, Aponovich 52 is a work of profound contemplation on art and the act of painting: transcendent , inspirational and visionary."

Dana Salvo, Clark Gallery


A Painting Marathon
52 Weeks / 52 Paintings

June 12-July 28, 2012

Reception Saturday, June 16 from 4:00-6:00

Clark Gallery
145 Lincoln Rd., Lincoln,MA

Studio Still Life , Evening
James Aponovich

This painting was done after the "52" project was completed, but if you look carefully at the studio shelves you will notice several of the objects that I included in paintings over the
year long marathon.

For more on this exhibit go to
At Home and Away

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Week 52 Plus.....Epiblog !

Lincoln, Massachusetts


I would like to invite all of those who you have taken the time to follow my journey over the past year to come to Clark Gallery in Lincoln, MA on the 16th of June, or during the run of the exhibit to see, in person, all 52 of these paintings. It was quite a year. Beth ( see week #51) was extremely necessary and very patient in working with me to get each week's work published. My thanks to her. I would also like to mention the owner of Clark Gallery and friend, Dana Salvo for his encouragement at critical times, "come on champ!, there's only two more rounds, keep your feet movin' and dukes up!".....that kind of thing.

Here's me, surrounded by some upcoming "challenges".
I learned at The Armory Show that I am on the 2013 schedule to have a show at
Hirschl & Adler Modern, New York, NY., which means I have a lot of work ahead of me.
Wish me luck.

Check back in from time to time for updates.
You can continue to follow me, along with Beth on our blog:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

WEEK # 52 / Still Life with Cloche

Still Life with Cloche
James Aponovich
oil on canvas. 20" x 16", 2012

Here it is, the final week of this journey. For my last painting I decided to build myself a pictorial Anniversary cake. I had thought of other images for this auspicious week, all could be described as "cleaver" or worse yet "cheeky". Beth suggested that I don't disappoint anyone who might be expecting a valid summation of this past year. So, this is my choice, a colorful layering of repeated shapes, swelling upward. I hope you like it.

THE MANIFESTO ( sort of)

In summation, I have always had a broad based interest in everything that touches human life. Some may compare it to a beaver pond, broad but shallow. Anyways, I often reference historical paintings because I have a firm belief that the potential for human achievement is necessitated
by an appreciation of the canon of past achievements. Even though, as the poet
once said, we cannot hope to emulate those achievements, we just try.....or in his own words:

And what there is to conquer
by strength and submission has already been discovered
once or twice, or several times by men whom we cannot hope
to emulate - but there is no competition -
there is only the fight to recover what has been lost
and found and lost again and again....
for us, there is only the trying

the rest is not our business.

T.S. Eliot
The Four Quartets

The world is small now, but as artist, we must seek a new common mythic narrative, derived from the past, and thusly carry on, for humanity, a rich accessible tradition.

NEXT...............THE PARTY!

I would like to invite all of you to come and see for yourself all 52 of these paintings.

June 12- July 18
Artist Reception: June 16
Clark Gallery
Lincoln, MA

Check back here next week for the invitation!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

WEEK # 51/ Portrait of Elizabeth Johansson

Portrait of Elizabeth Johansson
James Aponovich
Oil on panel, 7" x 5", 2012

Often, during this project I have mentioned my wife, Beth. By way of introduction let me present this portrait of her. I met her by seeing her drawings and to this day she is a dedicated and wonderful artist. She also takes my rough drafts and photos and translates them into this elegant format. To her I have much to thank.

Fra Filippo Lippi
Portrait of a Man and Woman at a Casement
Tempera on wood, 25" x 16", c. 1440
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Recently, Beth and I were in New York to attend the Armory Show. As we were staying on the Upper East Side, The Met was only a short walk from the hotel. We were there to meet our friends Judith and Robert and to see three exhibits,
The Steins Collection ( the collections of Leo & Gertrude Stein), The furniture of Duncan Phyfe,
and a knock out show of The Portrait in Renaissance Italy.

Jan Van Eyck
Man with a Red Chaperon
oil on panel, 14" x 10", 1433
National Gallery, London

Both the Van Eyck and the Lippi paintings were executed about the same time, and both could not be more different. The sober, lofty, idealized formality of the Italians is contrasted with the hard psychological abstractness of the Flemish. I have always striven to align myself and my painting style with the warm Italians of the Fifteenth Century, but I just can't shake that cold Northern blast from the Flemish that is really my greatest influence. Maybe these New England winters are getting to me.

Next up, the final one.

Copyright 2012 James Aponovich

Sunday, March 11, 2012

WEEK #50/ Sliced Cantaloupe

Sliced Cantaloupe
James Aponovich
Oil on panel, 9" x 12", 2012

I habitually carry a sketchbook wherever I go. You just never know what you will see that may become the next painting. It is very difficult to force a painting, usually it just appears. The trick is to be ready and to recognize it. That split second is inspiration, the rest is work, in other words, craftsmanship.
Recently, I was drawing with my friend Bob and as he was sketching a bunch of oyster shells, I noticed an old, not very valuable, Chinese bowl on the table. His wife, Sylvia, was slicing a

Study, Sliced Cantaloupe
James Aponovich
Graphite on paper, 9" x 7", 2012

.....I started drawing. Since Beth and I were going to New York for a few days
to attend The Armory Show, I had to make this painting using only elemental contrasts.

Orange - Blue
Dark - Light
Hard - Soft

Pretty basic stuff, but sometimes the best dishes are made with the fewest ingredients.

copyright 2012 James Aponovich
All content / images are copyright James Aponovich 2012
and may not be used without written permission.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Studio Still Life
James Aponovich
oil on panel, 16" x 12", 2012

Whew! This was one difficult picture to paint. It is a combination of Trompe l'oeil with standard three dimensional forms. The rules of both styles are different yet very specific and unrelenting. The painting is composed of "stuff" on the wall of my studio plus objects on the shelves. It ain't what you got, it's how you put it together.


Sometimes. As you may have already figured out, many of my still lifes have complex underlying compositional structures and / or numerical puzzles. I will often give hints. In this case it's the three push pins next to the playing card.
Why the Queen of Hearts?
Red Yellow Blue

Much of this painting is monochromatic, white, black, and shades of grey. Since The Queen has the three primary colors plus white and black I painted her first. Then I keyed my colors and values to attempt to balance the composition. Yellow tissue, blue Chinese vase and red ribbon are meant to pull those objects forward. I painted the drawings and compass in neutral greys to help me along. The important transition is the Zurbaran postcard behind the vase leaning against the wall, uniting one plane with the other.

copyright 2012 James Aponovich
All content copyright James Aponovich and cannot be reproduced
without written permission.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


Chambered Nautilus
James Aponovich
oil on panel , 6" x 6", 2012

This is a study for a larger, upcoming painting. The shell has been sitting on a shelf in the studio for years and since I normally do not paint seashells, I never paid much attention to it. A few days ago, I took it down off the shelf and really examined it. I must paint this.
The Romanian sculptor Brancusi once said that the egg was the ideal shape (see week # 31). That may be true, but I feel that this shell may be the most beautiful shape. It's asymmetrical form is exquisite, the very embodiment of natural elegance and grace. As a realist, I paint the external surface of objects, but it is how they are composed internally that has always interested me. The shape of this shell is a result of an uneven growth sequence...a very precise uneven growth sequence.


Rectangle of the Whirling Squares
with Logarithmic Spiral

Rectangle of the Whirling Squares! Who says this stuff is boring?
Well, It's just another name for the good old Golden Section Rectangle that I have referred to in the past. But if you look at it, you will see that it is composed of squares, one after another, getting progressively smaller and smaller, dancing their way infinitum. Start adding squares and it gets larger and never ends. Progressive growth - same shape.
By drawing diagonals in all the squares and inscribing arcs I come up with a logarithmic spiral, or growth pattern for the chambered nautilus.

Copyright 2012 James Aponovich
All content is copyright James Aponovich and cannot be used or reproduced with express written permission.

Friday, February 17, 2012

WEEK # 47 / Still Life with Self Portrait

Still Life with Self Portrait
James Aponovich
oil on panel, 10" x 8", 2012

"I never was good looking
now I'm too old to let that get me down"

Chris Smither, singer songwriter

It had to happen, sooner or later I would have to face reality and deal with the self portrait. The last one I did was perhaps twenty five years ago. Good reason. This painting started as a farewell to the clementine orange, that little jewel from Spain and North Africa. They are now being replaced by an impostor from California appropriately called "cuties". A sales pitch.
Anyway, I decided to include a portrait of me impaled on a 'frog', a barbed florist stand ment to stick flower stems onto. I keep one next to my easel with a reproduction
of a painting, A Portrait of a Man by Hans Memling. I did not want to copy Memling so I painted a reproduction of another


"......repurposed material folded into larger questions of identity, history, culture and the cult of self."
This is a portion of a review of an artist's show that was published in The New York Time last year. Cult of self? I called my art savvy Boston dealer, Dana Salvo, and asked him to translate that sentence from 'artspeak' to English. He told me not to worry about it.

The Artist In His Studio
oil on panel, 10" x 12", 1628
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston


I am often asked which artist is my favorite. That is a difficult question to answer but I would come down on the side of Rembrandt. His humanity, piety and outstanding technical ability puts him on top. I have chosen two self portraits out of the hundreds that he did in his life. Both are in relatively close proximity to me, one in Boston, the other in New York. This small painting shows Rembrandt at the age of twenty two in the full act of painting. He has stepped back from the easel and like a swordsman is about to lunge forward and attack that painting with his brush. His future all before him.

Self Portrait
oil on canvas, 52" x 40", 1658
The Frick Collection, NY

Here sits the Master some thirty years later. He is fifty two and has just lost everything he acquired from his illustrious career. His house and belongings were sold to pay off his debts. He is broke, out of work, and out of fashion. Yet, he says to himself, screw it! I am a painter. So he paints one of the greatest portraits of all time. He is a King and portrays himself accordingly, the black eyes stare at you with the accumulated wisdom of triumph and tragedy. He died at my current age, broke.
Sixteen years later in Germany a child is born who was to bring to music what Rembrandt to painting......Johann Sebastian Bach.

Copyright 2012 James Aponovich
Content and Aponovich images are copyright 2012 J. Aponovich and can only be used with written permission.

Friday, February 10, 2012

WEEK # 46 / Moonrise Over the Gulf of Maine

Moonrise Over the Gulf of Maine
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 10" x 13", 2012

I am very fortunate to live relatively close to the seacoast. Sometimes, particularly in winter I feel the need to wash my eyes clean with the blue of the sea and sky. I have written before about painting on the coast of Maine but now Beth and I are in New Castle, New Hampshire, just east of Portsmouth. ( click on: Aponovich and Johansson, At Home and Away )
We habitually sketch, not always to create art but to train our eyes, minds and hands to, as Beth puts it "organize space". That is the primary role of composition. Be mindful however, that we are always on the lookout for that situation where everything comes together....'s right in front of you.

Sketch, Moonrise
James Aponovich
Pencil on paper, 4.5" x 6", 2012


After a long day of looking at drawing sites in Southern Maine, we returned to New Castle and there it was, an outcropping of granite and basalt at high tide. Come two hours later and it completely changed. But for now, for me, this was as basic as it gets. Rock, both in the sea as granite and in the sky as the moon, and water, the sea and clouds. The rocks were leviathan like emerging from a primordial sea. This was earth for billions of years.
The sketch probably took me about twenty minutes to do, but it was enough information. The sea was an electric blue, ice cold, not a Mediterranean sapphire. The rocks were wet and black but the last fading rays of the sunset barely cast a warm light on the very top. The rocks were the fulcrum of sun and moon. The moment was out of time. This is why we always return to the coast, the rhythm of the tide and the screech of the gull is embedded in us.

Coming up next week: Let Me Introduce Myself

All content copyright James Aponovich and cannot be used without permission
copyright 2012 James Aponovich

Saturday, February 4, 2012

WEEK # 45/ Roadside Pansies

Roadside Pansies
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 14" x 14", 2012


Today is February 5th, the first Sunday of the month. About two months ago we decided to host a dinner party for friends of ours from New York who are returning ( they being "summer folk" here) to their Hancock home for a world premier. You see, Robert O., formerly a writer for Jim Henson's Sesame Street, now retired , has taken up the pen and scripted the lyrics to an operetta totally based on the local police log, aptly titled "Police Log".
A month ago it occurred to me that this day could be what is now an unofficial National holiday called Super Bowl Sunday, and the fact that New England and New York are combatants, it's a huge day around here. I say, fare forward fans for I declare this day the Super "O" Bowl in honor of our guests the Oksners! So, I am busy in the kitchen.


Seeing that New England is in the Northeastern corner of this hemisphere, winter comes early and leaves late. The joke is that there are a couple of months out of the year when the skiing is not too good. That means we are always on the look out for signs of Spring.
I was searching for a particular plant for the great "Appledore" painting, that is on my easel. We stopped into a sprawling roadside plant place , it holds the distinction for being open 365 days a year and for having free popcorn. What's not to like. As we pulled in there were racks of pansies January! I couldn't find what I was looking for, but upon returning home I kept thinking of those pansies. The next day I returned and also discovered, amongst the garden stuff, the Chinese porcelain balls. I could not wait to start the painting. The point is you never know where a painting will pop up, so keep your eyes open, it could be right in front of you.

Friday, January 27, 2012

WEEK #44 / Still Life with French Porcelain Hand

Still Life with French Porcelain Hand
James Aponovich
oil on panel, 10" x 8", 2012


At Christmas, one of the presents that we gave to our daughter Ana was, of course, a gift certificate to some place or other. While shopping, I discovered this porcelain hand at an antique shop and thought it would be clever to place the certificate in the hand. Bad idea. Her reaction to the hand was that it was "kinda creepy". She kept the gift card and returned the hand, thank you very much. O.K., I thought, maybe I'll find a use for it, then I found a discarded postage stamp sheet picked clean of stamps. Hmmmm.


The grid on the stamp sheet impressed me with it's clean lines,both straight and revealing a perforated border. It had a cool whiteness. The Minimalist painter Agnes Martin immediately came to mind.

Agnes Martin
acrylic on canvas, 1997

Minimalism, as an art form, carries a complete economy of means. Nothing is superficial. I, on the other hand, am a Representational painter so it is difficult not to tell stories, whether you want to or not. With Minimalism it is almost impossible to "read into" a painting, even the Abstract Expressionists could not avoid that.


Along with the eye, the human hand is loaded with symbolism. In the position of the porcelain it can mean STOP! or peace. The "Hand of God" was portrayed by artists in the Middle Ages as a hand in the sky. In Buddhism the hand of Buddha with fingers out stretched would symbolize the turning of the Wheel of Dharma. In almost every city, for ten bucks you can have someone read your past and tell your future by looking at your hand.

Bronze Hand
Yemen, 100-300 AD.
British Museum

This Arabian hand was an offering to God, or more precisely, a god. It stood in for the real thing. To lay your hand down to God was a serious business.


Joseph Cornell
Hotel de la Duchesse-Anne, 1957

The master of the found object was Joseph Cornell who led a very private, pedestrian life in Queens, New York, yet produced the most amazing visual poetry from random objects.


My first New York art dealer was Allan Stone. One day he had me visit him at his home just outside the city. I had never seen so much art stuffed into one house before, DeKoonings all over the place, a major Franz Kline painting behind not over the sofa! So much art that there were only narrow paths leading through the rooms. Of course I was awestruck and slack jawed and as I was walking and looking, I nearly kicked a box that was on the floor....
a Joseph Cornell box!
This painting is my homage to Joseph Cornell.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

WEEK # 43 / The White Sofa

The White Sofa
James Aponovich
oil on canvas, 14" x 16", 2012

Monty Python's Flying Circus

Due to a lifting of a deadline and accumulating snow outside, I am finding myself in need of a getaway. The problem is that I am still "chained to the easel" until this project is finished, so artistically anyway, I am going to Rome.
Beth and I share adjoining studios and by chance we are both working from drawings we did on our last trip to Rome.

The White Sofa
James Aponovich
pencil on Arches paper, 9.5" x 10.5", 2010

Hanging in our kitchen is a drawing I did a couple of years ago when I was a Visiting Artist at The American Academy in Rome. The Academy is housed in a magnificent group of buildings on the Gianicolo Hill overlooking Trastevere and the rest of Rome. The views are stunning. This drawing is of the interior of our apartment "Il Cortile", the courtyard, in the McKim, Mead and White building. It indeed overlooks the main courtyard with huge cypresses and a Paul Manship fountain. The rooms are brilliant white with deep Florentine Red tile floors. This sofa is in the living room and is the first thing you see as you enter.

Interior of Cortile apartment

Usually, Beth and I would start our day downstairs at the Bar/Cafe for a cappuccino and cornetto while trying to catch up on world news and baseball scores back home. As many places are closed during mid day we would spend our mornings walking down into Rome to visit galleries, churches,ruins, markets,restaurants and just about everything else we could absorb.
In Umbria we draw everyday. Here we looked and looked. Late in the afternoon I would draw for a few hours. Don't ask me why, but I was fascinated by this sofa. Technically it's an interior but I just view it as a big still life.


I really treasured my time at The Academy. I felt quite at home there, it's more like a monastery with writers, architects, historians, musicians and, oh yeah, artists concentrating on their work. The quiet beauty is intoxicating and I look forward to returning.

Friday, January 13, 2012

WEEK # 42 / Tulips in a Bronze Vase

Tulips in a Bronze Vase
James Aponovich
Oil on panel, 7" x 5", 2012

The central theme of the new, large painting that I am working on, now titled
Appledore Still Life , Incoming Fog, is a blue cloisonne vas loaded with heavy parrot tulips.This painting , Tulips in a Bronze Vase, is a study for that painting. It now has a life of it's own.


The flowers are in a bronze vase that I recently found in an antique shop. I love the surface and the historical significance of bronze, an ancient alloy of tin and copper. In portraying the tulips I am aiming to accentuate their physical appearance, how gravity presses them one onto another.
Each flower is delicate and fragile, their petals tear easily. The metal vase is heavy, cold and hard, the ultimate contrast. The background is dark, the flowers burning embers. For a small painting it is very, very heavy.

2012 copyright James Aponovich
All content, text and images copyright James Aponovich and cannot be used without permission.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Week #41 / Tidal Pool

Tidal Pool
James Aponovich
Oil on canvas, 8" x 12", 2012

When I paint on site I use very few materials. It begins with a pencil drawing, fairly detailed, on canvas, followed by oil washes that are transparent and gradually built up.The technique is basically what is known as grisaille, a monochromatic painting.
This is an oil sketch painted with sepia and indigo blue. Sepia originally was derived from the ink sack of the cuttlefish, so it seems fitting to use it on this edge of the land, beginning of the seascape painting. This is a study for the "great Appledore" painting and it represents the core theme of this piece, the juxtaposition of rock and sea with the lush vitality of flowers and fruit. It is a thematic polarity. There is no debris, no flotsam, no jetsam, a pure primordial world.
I have painted this to set the stage for the environment: rock,sea,and sky. I am becoming more and more absorbed into the painting. It is a necessary condition.

Copyright 2012 James Aponovich
All content and Aponovich images are copyright and cannot be used
without permission.