L’Orange Sauvage is noon in my Hours of the Day series. The idea for the title came from something my father-in-law said. His French was better than his English. We had an orange tree next to the house with very bitter oranges, and the first time he tasted them he translated from the French; “These are savage oranges!” He meant ‘wild’, but I liked the phrase.
The image shows a family watching a child perform. Based on the pierrot figures from Watteau, this little clown is standing on a paint-splattered box in front of a hung canvas or sheet. The oranges that were being juggled are on the ground, but the performance drags on, and the audience sweats in the hot sun.
I’ve always been a narrative artist, from the earliest stages. At this point I can’t imagine painting an image and a story being in there.
I’ve always liked him, but it wasn’t until I started going back and posting these pieces on Open Museum that I realized just how often I’ve gone to Watteau’s work for some sort of inspiration. He was never one of those artists I’d have put in my top ten, like Rembrandt, Ribera, Michelangelo, etc., but perhaps he should have been on the list. His work is quieter, more genteel than I usually prefer. God knows, Boucher and Gainsborough are probably next…
Where is this man looking, I wonder? Back toward what might have been in his past? At the attractive young woman next door? At his young son and his girlfriend? Your paintings, so different from my work, yet psychologically so many similarities. . . . wonderful, Scott!
It is important to leave some possibilities open. Who he is looking at or away from, what he is thinking, what the puckered look means on his face… all of these things change depending on what it is he is doing.
I remember during art school in the mid 70s the elites pronouncing that painting was dead. I was abandoned. This painting brings tears to my eyes. I realize that there were obviously many others back then in art schools, painting lovers underground, who will always be moved by great paintings. It’s getting to where I would hate to imagine the “artworld” without you.
Haha, Kent! The artworld has easily imagined itself without representational painters like you and me for quite a while. Painting has been declared dead several times in my lifetime, but stubborn fools refuse to listen. Somehow, smearing colored mud on a surface seems to be an irrepressible human endeavor. The internet might kill it, though it will hardly be the only art that falls.
How about the French use of the word as in Rimbaud’s Les Illuminations ’ J’ai seul la clef de cette parade sauvage.’ You could start a real blog on that one word, Scott, Didi……*
“Savage Mojo”!! Sounds like a culinary hit. We used the oranges in salad dressings and cooking fish and poultry. They imparted a unique flavor to whatever they were used in. Of course, it was the roots of that tree that continually clogged out sewer lines…
Beautiful, Scott. I remember how palpable the sunlight was in this piece. By the way, I reviewed your SEVEN LAUGHTERS OF GOD on Amazon…
Thanks for the complement, and for the review. There was one review there before. When I read it I cried like a baby! When a perfect stranger reacts like that you don’t feel that all this outpouring of creative energy is for nothing.