As with all my studio still life paintings, this is not so much a representation of arranged objects as a composition of objects, shapes, colours and patterns to make a still life design. Paramount in these works is a desire to reach a balance and to keep the eye of the viewer interested and moving from one area to another through graphic device and colour combinations. The elements I have chosen for this piece are all from my studio, some from paintings I am working on in other genres and some from scrapbooks and sketchbooks.
The larger elements include a European lute from my collection and an image of Picasso’s “Paul as Harlequin”, a particular favourite of mine as it is one of his representational pieces and of his son. I have used the “Arlecchino” image for many years in my own work starting from a series of small works in 1996 published as a limited edition set of 6 prints based on characters from “Commedia del Arte” (see images below) but often just as the diamond pattern as a hint at that heritage.
The footed dish and the watermelon are a nod to my own heritage as these were favourite subjects of my uncle Alberto Morrocco’s still life work. The Imari vase and lilies are from a traditional still life piece I was working on at the time and the Venetian arch at the left of the painting is from a cityscape I was also working on at the time (see image below).
But the painting started with a colour scheme – turquoise and purple. By limiting the range of colours it forces me to create new combinations and juxta-positions. This is where representational painting ends and an intellectual compositional pursuit begins. Each new colour, tone or shape added has an effect on the ones already on the canvas so the placement and intensity has to be considered. It sometimes feels like a cross between Rubics cube, jigsaw puzzle and three dimensional chess with the aim being to reach that illusive harmonious“balance”. To help me I have now built up a store of shapes and patterns whose effect and purpose I know such as the stripes, spots, zig-zags and long curves, but I like to incorporate new patterns where possible and the tattoo design in the lower centre is there to create a richness and fluidity to balance the more geometric shapes.
The circle top left which appears in almost every studio still life is non-representational although it could be seen as a sun or moon (adding a little ambiguity, are we inside or outside?), but is actually an echo of my father’s ability to draw a perfect circle with a single line, something I still cannot do but I always put in a circle drawn freehand to let his memory know I’m trying!