IMAGE OF THE WEEK
Still Life, Rechavia (or Still Life with Pomegranate) is one of the paintings in my NEW calendar, The Jewish Eye 5779 /2019 Calendar of Art. It was painted from a study that I did on my first trip to Israel in 2009. A friend of mine had rented an apartment in Jerusalem’s lovely neighborhood of Rechavia, where we stayed for two weeks. The apartment had a balcony that looked down on a courtyard, where a lush eucalyptus tree grew, rising four floors and beyond, filling the courtyard with its lush foliage and curving limbs. A white plastic table on our balcony looked to me like a blank canvas – a great place to set up a still life. As an added bonus, a lovely vine with blue flowers had wound itself around the white wrought iron railing of the balcony.
It wasn’t hard to come up with three objects to put on the table: a pomegranate, a bottle of olive oil with a beautiful label, and a colorful scarf. I began with a study in gouache on paper – the most I was able to travel with. I rendered the study in a fairly realistic, representational manner, knowing I would do more with it later.
I love juxtaposing a still life with something of the landscape beyond, as in my recently-featured painting Chestnut & Pussywillow. In this case, the flowering vine seemed like an obvious choice – but when I sat down months later to sketch out the final piece on a larger canvas, something told me to take a different approach. I wanted to capture the feeling of the neighborhood, of being in Jerusalem. The place was filled with interesting sounds that I remembered fondly, as I have described in the caption for this piece in my calendar. There were cooing doves in the morning; footsteps below; voices calling out in Hebrew; passing vehicles on the street, muffled by the building in between; and the everyday sounds that emanated from the other apartments that shared this courtyard. I remembered the place as a sanctuary in the midst of the city, a small cocoon of a neighborhood, a vertical compound. So I tried to weave these sounds and memories into the background, and wove the leaves together as if part of a tapestry. As always, diagonals play an important role in bringing the whole thing into balance.
Rechavia has a special place in my heart, as does all of Jerusalem.
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