Monday, June 25, 2012

Still life with green apples and lemons

Still life with green apples and lemons.
24"×20" (61 x 50.8 cm). Oil on canvas. January 2010.
This still life has been living on my kitchen wall for more than two years, and, in retrospect, I see it as the first painting of my "Structures and quotes" series.

The quote in this painting is a rather indirect one – on the basic, mundane level, it derives from the fact that the still life is painted over a study of Van Gogh's "View of Arles with Trees in Blossom" (1888), with its eye-piercing greenery, accentuated by warm violets of the foreground tree trunk.

This greenery remains uncovered by the new coat of paint in the right bottom corner, and some if it also shines through in the apples. Although otherwise Van Gogh's landscape is hidden, the painting picked up its color harmony: piercing yellows and greens set off by muted purples and violets.

Van Gogh. View of Arles with Trees in Blossom"
   
The winter morning light is conveyed by cold magenta and blue highlights, which unify the still life set up and its abstract background.

But the effect of Van Gogh's colour harmony, as I see it, is deeper than that. It's in the slight discord between colors, between lights, and highlights, and shadows – not visible directly unless you are looking for it specifically, but present nonetheless.

I sometimes think that it's mainly this mysterious effect of minor disharmony in the overall harmony that endows Van Gogh's painting with the overwhelming sense of the deep tragedy of human existence.
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