Still Life with Chocolates
oil on canvas
60 in. x 48 in. (152.4 cm x 121.92 cm)
Gift of the Friends,
Although he began his career as a portraitist and figure painter, New Hampshire artist James Aponovich has been known since the early 1980s for his elaborate still-life compositions. Born in Nashua in 1948, Aponovich attended the University of New Hampshire at Durham. He began to exhibit regularly during the 1970s, and in 1976 he was given his first significant solo show at New England College in Henniker. Since then, Aponovich has exhibited widely in galleries and museums, including the Currier Museum of Art. Examples of Aponovich's work may be seen in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the Portland (Maine) Museum of Art; among others.
Still Life with Chocolates reflects Aponovich's predilection for grouping diverse objects along strong vertical and horizontal axes. Seashells, a cup and saucer, various kinds of fruit and flowers, a dish of chocolates, vases, colorful pieces of cloth, and a small stack of papers are among the many items that the artist brings together in a complex desktop array. Form, texture, and pattern compete for attention, yet each object is depicted with a clarity that enables it to hold its own.
The profusion of objects in Still Life with Chocolates as well as its vertical format recall the Baroque compositions of such seventeenth-century Dutch still-life painters as Abraham van Beyeren (c. 1620-1690). However, despite the initial similarity, Aponovich eschews the narrative and allegorical content of Dutch still life. In contrast to the Dutch tendency to depict groups of related objects that remind the viewer of such moralizing themes as vanity, sobriety, and earthly transience, Aponovich chooses his subjects only for their capacity to stimulate the imagination and please the eye. Frequently they bear little obvious relation to one another, leading some observers to categorize the artist's paintings as surrealistic. In 1998, for example, Aponovich's work was included in the exhibition, Rene Magritte and Contemporary Art, held at the Museum voor Moderne Kunst in Ostende, Belgium.
The impression of Surrealism in Still Life with Chocolates and other works by Aponovich is further conveyed through the peculiar flatness of the composition. Dismissing perspectival illusionism as an unnecessary narrative device, the artist equalizes his subjects by placing all of them close to the picture plane. The resulting image gives not only an altered perception of reality but new understanding as seemingly insignificant objects suddenly appear on the same footing as those that are more precious or wonderful.
A gift of the Friends of the Currier Museum of Art, Still Life with Chocolates was acquired from the artist in 1985. It remains one of the outstanding examples of contemporary work by New Hampshire artists in the Currier's collections.
James Aponovich: Recent Paintings. Ex. cat. Hackett-Freedman Gallery, San Francisco, 2001.
James Aponovich. Ex. cat. Currier Gallery of Art, 1985.
1985 Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, NH, "James Aponovich." Jan. 6 - Feb. 10.
1986 Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, ME, "Masterpieces from the Currier Gallery of Art." Sept. 11 - Nov. 2.
1988 Thorne-Sagendorph Art Gallery, Keene State College, Keene, NH, "New Art / New Hampshire II." March 26 - April 24.
2001 Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, NH, "From Wyeth to Welliver: American Realism of the 20th Century." June 30 - Sept. 3.
2005 "James Aponovich: A Retrospective." Organized by the Currier Museum of Art in association with Hackett-Freedman Gallery. Traveled to: Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, NH, March 18 - June 30; Hackett-Freedman Gallery, San Francisco, CA, Aug. 4 - 27, 2005.
Purchased by Currier Gallery of Art, 1985