January 3, 2009

Modest Morandi

Although I am supposed to eschew the eating of citrus fruits, I always find myself challenged in this regard during the holidays by receiving at least a crate or two full of oranges and grapefruits. I indulge my appetite although I should not and generally pay a price in pain. But this year I managed to at least slow down my consumption somewhat by making paintings of the forbidden fruits before devouring them. The first was an oil on panel painting of a depression-era ceramic mug in juxtaposition with a pale orange. Intrigued by the simple accessibility of the design and the warm, inviting colors, I proceeded to make more of these still life paintings on the theme of a single vessel and one piece of fruit or vegetable; Purple Vase and Green Mango, Pea Green Bowl and Persimmon, Violet Grapes on a Green and White Platter.
I have always been a great admirer of the painter Giorgio Morandi. He is perhaps my favorite of painters. His austere earthen toned still life paintings were, at least spiritually, the inspiration for these spare paintings. Morandi’s greatness was in his ability to capture and hold attention with Zen-like simplicity, using subtle modulations of greys and browns. When I think of a Morandi still life, I think of winter. Winter in South Carolina, however, is more like a prelude to spring, with camellias blossoming, narcissus in bloom and an exuberance of flowering quinces. It is difficult to think in blacks, whites, and greys while immersed in pink and green. My new work in still life painting for winter in the South Carolina is in the spirit of Morandi but with a hearty appetite for color.

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