Thursday, June 21, 2012

Three Naked Peaches

                                                                   Adriaan Coorte

Looking closely at objects, examining their exact shape, numerous details that distinguish them is what starts long, meandering process of painting a still-life. Most people have very few memories of times taken across their whole lives of paying that amount of focused attention on any tangible object. Mostly their contact is momentary, fleeting, and cursory. Usually on such occasions we look for something we already know about those objects and seek confirmation of preexistent knowledge. But at times we do intent to learn something yet obscure to us and for a satisfying moment a frightful extend of our unfamiliarity with the world is revealed to us. This is a wild, foreign territory stretching away from us in all directions. It is as if we were standing at the bottom floor of an immense library with aisles of books climbing endlessly beyond any conceivable horizons. Surely we will never get to know the cogent content of even the nearest corner. We shall try, but while trying, the provisional scaffolding of a few hasty certainties will sway underneath our feet with the alarming sense that we should go back to the beginning to make certain that what we know is actually true.

Painters of still-lifes and portraitists should be grouped in the same guild, while landscape painters urban and sea-scape as well as  figure painters have a different approach, different optics. Painting a still-life as if it was a landscape or painting a landscape or a figure as if it was a still-life has been done in the rich past of art.
These two opposite tendencies are both in use by all painters-distancing and proximating  elements in view, but harmonizing them tends to favor either generalization or specificity.

                                                        Adriaan Coorte
Over some two centuries still-life genre enjoyed and suffered voluminous commentaries regarding the “hidden meanings”, a secret language woven into the very purposeful choices of objects in still-lifes.Very often such texts are bristling with overwhelming erudition; indeed the wish to display the authors erudition  seems so overpowering that nothing ,even the most unassuming crumb cannot escape lavish exegesis that quotes Apocalypses, bawdy couplets, local proverbs and secret books of alchemy. From some skeptical angle it seems often as if Panurg had dictated these explanations to make fun of ponderous scholastics. Nearly all of those books and articles are in stated or silently obvious polemic with other texts on the still-life subject and are about texts – not about actual effects of contemplating still-life in question. The idea that a painter depicted lovingly three peaches on a marble ledge is somehow insufficient, raw and unacceptable. In the first sentence we are told they are “mysterious”. I know well that painter chooses peaches to paint because they are beautiful, triumphant looking, alluring, shining examples of fruition, a joy to behold. To a painter, a passionate lover of beauty it constitutes perfect reason to paint them, to render an extremely faithful portrait of them.
The task is undertaken with the high ambition of showing the shocking beauty of fresh peaches so true, so present and immediate that they would become permanent part of firmament of art.


  1. Oh and let us not forget many critics need to degrade again that awful activity of sex and complain of the references the artists gives to it when lovingly and accurately depicting fruit or heaven forbid, a FLOWER. Shall I mention the underside of an exposed SNAIL!? Damp and delicate.

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