Bananen | Denise van der Burgh | Still-life of fruit
- Contemporary artist: Denise van der Burgh
- Title Artwork: Bananen
- Year: 2002
- Technique: Oil in Panel
- Still-life of fruit
- Size 25cm x 40cm
Bananen | Denise van der Burgh
These bananas have an art historical history of an example of the transient nature of the human condition. Any bruised fruit (or rotten foodstuff, bubbles, musical instruments or musicians) would be a symbolic stand-in for the impermanence of life in paintings during the Dutch Golden Age.
These subjects in paintings also allowed the artist to show their technical expertise whilst having a moralising tone. Exotic fruit and flowers were especially loved during the Seventeenth Century as the colours and subject were inherently opulent and attractive.
A bruised banana is a challenging subject to paint. We have curated this piece as a magnificent example of contemporary figurative art. The bananas are beautiful in their colour and technical execution. In a room, the painting can be bananas with deep colours for a fun addition to a room, but to a keen eye, they allude to a greater art historical significance. For Seventeenth Century patrons, the vivid colours of a still-life was just as important. For vivid colours, artists had to use expensive materials to achieve the saturation. It is unlikely that you would see a banana this yellow in the Seventeenth century as the yellow colour available then had more earth brown tones, you would know it as ochre yellow. This is present around the brownest of the bruised banana's part of this painting.
Opulence in paintings was a double-edged sword for an artist. People enjoyed luxury and were attracted to beauty and exoticness. Yet at the same time, reformed Protestant religion was the dominant culture of the time. By presenting opulence in a moralising and cautionary tale, artist and patrons could indulge in the luxury presented in the painting.
Van der Burgh is an artist with a law and art historical background. Her specialism is realistic and surrealistic oil paintings that all start from her fascination with an object or a colour.
If bruised fruit and existential righteousness is not your cup of tea—a contemporary issue note. The cavendish (all 🍌) is currently in a crisis. The Panama disease that wiped out its predecessors is well on its way in destroying the current banana/cavendish/ 🍌 crops. So this might also be one of the last paintings of the banana, as we have known it these previous 100 or so years.
More information on Bananas
Steven Dubner on Freakonomics Podcast will enlighten you. It is a delightful and informative episode named: The Most Interesting Fruit in the World (Ep. 375)
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