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.

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