January 22nd, 2011
Where to begin? Well, of course the sex: the Anthurium with its phallic stamen flourished like flame-tongue, flower itself studded with black dew & defamiliarized without its rich glossy reds. And that bottom-right papaya(?)-half, labia swollen & cradling that strange pit which nudges out like the operculum of a snail’s foot.
But consider also the color — the peach-vermillions of the papaya halves’ (& other fruit halves’) flesh, the rusty fetal clouds, the sun on the left in its golden corona, the moon on the right flaring from the indigo night, startling as an eye suddenly flicked open. & the rest of the painting stippled gray & black. A color scheme simultaneously unfinished-seeming & decisively chosen.
Then there’s the fecundity on the point of (& crossed over to) rot: spotted plantains in the back, nerotic landscape underneath. Or that pineapple, alien in its bark’s curlicue overgrowth, wild like the nails of corpses grown too long & arabesqued. & then the odd touch of the feathers bedecking the centrepiece Anthurium: 5 black feathers, marking the Anthurium’s engorged corpuscles like the flower was a gravesite, or some martyred Christian saint. So much death, so much lushness along the path from ripeness to rot to final shrivel.
But back to the sex (& why not? Taking Wendy Beckett as my guide here. If it’s in plain view, talk about it). I love how it acts as counterpoint to the painting’s grays & blacks. How those rich fleshed fruits, genital analogues, & skyscape symbolic of the cycle of day to night — of life renewing, dying, renewing again — how all that balances the monochrome. What a painting, so vibrant & lusty in its lifeforce AND deathforce. A great example of how a still-life can have modern impact & still be true to its roots as academic study of shape, composition, depth, light, color, texture.
More of Jose Ramon Alejandro’s art at www.artnet.com
All writing © copyright C. Way / Snailcrow.com 2011