27 May 2012
Still Life with Azalea and Apples, signed and dated 1937.
Oil on canvas, 64.5 by 74.5 cm.
Provenance: Private collection, Europe.
Authenticity of the work has been confirmed by the expert T. Levina.
Deineka’s 1937 painting Still Life with Azalea and Apples is a fine example of his work in the still life genre from the period when his artistic talent was blossoming. It was painted soon after his return from an extended trip to the USA, France and Italy, and it retains that very keen, strong “impression of an assertive freshness of technique”, of which the renowned critic Abram Efros wrote in 1935.
In the artist’s approach to his entirely traditional nature morte – flowers, fruit and drapery – there is none of the unity of picturesque subject matter inherent in classical painting, which portrays everything in a single textural key. With Deineka, it is as though he endows every object with its own personal texture and colour, emphasising the diversity of the matter of which the forms are composed – a diversity of organic matter and geometry. Natural shapes that are round – the flower-heads, the foliage, the apples – are moulded in strokes of thick, sculptural impasto. Treatment of the clay pot and bright yellow porcelain dish is more subtle, but solid enough. And lastly, the busy checked pattern of the fabric is painted deliberately sketchily and the paint layer is fairly light (similar checked fabric will appear in the dress of the model in Deineka’s later work Young Construction Worker, painted in 1966).
Painting crafted in this way shows the impact of Cubist collage, transformed to introduce a variety of textures to the painted surface. A distinct pure form of the style became especially evident in the work of Deineka’s senior contemporary and close associate within the Society of Easel Painters, David Shterenberg. While Deineka does not venture so far into laying bare techniques as does Shterenberg, there is a palpable interplay of contrasting material structures in his Still Life with Azalea and Apples.
Notes on symbols:
* Indicates 5% Import Duty Charge applies.
Ω Indicates 20% Import Duty Charge applies.
§ Indicates Artist's Resale Right applies.
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