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Still Life with Silver Apple

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Date Minted: May 2, 2020

Artist Description: A simple scene, inspired by the light studies that Monet did in his series about the Cathedral in Rouens. While the apple may stand in the foreground, light is the main character on this scene, lending it's flexible and dramatic nature to add further emotional tones to the composition, which by its action, changes dramatically throughout the day, opening up to new geometric interpretations.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

I’m not sure it’s possible to examine Still Life with Silver Apple through any of the various avenues artist OficinasTK provides us. Yes, this is a still life. Yes, as Oficinas describes for us, this is “A simple scene, inspired by the light studies that Monet did in his series about the Cathedral in Rouens.” Yes, “light is the main character on this scene, lending its flexible and dramatic nature to add further emotional tones to the composition.” All of that may be true, the influence and inspiration for the piece. And if we were using these clues to split Silver Apple open, we’d probably find much of artistic interest to discuss: After all, this is a stylistically and technically beautiful piece. But consider how much deeper we’re asked to understand Silver Apple, still lifes, and  light studies, when considering that, by all appearances, this is a still life of a thing which does not exist. There is no “silver apple.” And the light shining on it, is also very possibly false. A still life, in theory, is meant to capture the texture of an object, its folds and colors, its size and shape and reflectiveness, the luminosity of the room, the world around it. So what does it mean when those things are not only explored, they are invented by the artist? Is it still an exploration of form when the hand that explores is the hand that creates, when the circumstances of the portrait are predetermined? Still Life with Silver Apple, just how ingenious a recreation is this?

What Silver Apple calls a “silver apple” seems more like a disco ball. It’s certainly not an object with any basis in reality. It’s an imaginary object, a many-faceted, palm-sized sphere that sits upon a gold-inflected ground, casting a small shadow onto the surface underneath it. A strange tri-panelled background —which would make an interesting piece on its own— rises up behind the apple, dappled with ghostly semicircles of light and shadow, a light which also touches the surface and the apple atop it. Some of the apple’s facets are lit up in glorious white, so bright that their edges and textures recede under its intensity. Others capture mere slivers of that light, maintaining their tan coloration but betraying an almost reserved desire to shine. Other than the apple’s shadow, the surface upon which it rests is not affected by a play with light. There is indeed a light source, but it exclusively shines down upon the apple. The apple’s environment seems almost designed to be negligible: It’s so subtle and grainy and unremarkable, it forces our attention onto the image’s lone object of interest.

But again, we return to the question of artificiality. OficinasTK creates this apple. It is a product of their imagination, or appears to be; ditto the background, the surface, and the light which shines down upon it. This is a still life constructed in reverse. Instead of objects being placed in a space and then turned into art, the creation of the art entails the creation of an object, the creation of a space around it, the creation of an interaction between the two. This is not just a study of light, it’s a study of Let there be light. Light appears to have come first, and all the other details keyed in thereafter.

OficinasTK makes special reference to Monet’s paintings of the Cathedral in Rouens, France. It was one of Monet’s many studies of individual lightings on an object. He painted the Cathedral thirty times in different lighting conditions, seasons, and types of weather, never changing his vantage point, his object of interest, or its size. It was all about the appearance of a thing in certain conditions. He made his name off of series like these. His Lily Pads are similar. As are his paintings of Haystacks. Most of the late-stage paintings he made at his chateau in Giverny featured these kinds of natural affectations upon familiar objects.

Still Life with Silver Apple aspires to a Monet kind of study. It was created, apparently, with six forms; the piece was designed to shift into different lighting styles depending on the time of day. Alas, by all appearances that seems to no longer be the case. For reasons of insufficient gas, perhaps, or artistic choice, the piece no longer changes, is stuck in its single form, its exploration of light no longer a full study, but merely one aspect of a larger venture. In a way, that’s a shame; we’re stripped of learning more about OficinasTX’s talents, their interest in what specific aspects of light exactly? This is a fuller world we are only afforded a small peek into. 

Ah the air of mystery. We have a study of light’s current effect on an object with no comparison to any other. This light is perpetual. This silver apple is perpetually shining just so. This piece is more than just a still life of an object. In a very real, very bizarre way, it’s a still life of a Still Life with Silver Apple, exploring what the artist’s piece itself looks like when frozen in place, set upon an unmoving background, and left to be gazed at in perpetuity. 

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