Apples are a common fruit that have a long and rich history within the art world, regularly being portrayed by artists across the globe. Their symbolism is rich and varied, ranging from representing original sin within Christianity to representing wealth, knowledge, and power by the Ancient Greeks. Within this blog post, we will be examining the exciting variety of ways in which contemporary artists within the Figurative Art Now Online Exhibition have captured the fruit.

David Gould First Study of Nine Apples Acrylic, watercolour and gouache on paper 59 x 56 cm £950

The exhibition features two pieces by David Gould, the first is First Study of Nine Apples, and the second is Study of Twenty One Apples. They are mixed media paintings using a combination of acrylics, watercolours and gouache paints. David is a full time practising painter living in Cardiff, Wales. He enjoys working in different mediums and techniques, which he says is dependent on the weather, times of day and year. David has given each apple originality and unique quality whilst simultaneously creating a sense of uniformity.

David Gould Study of Twenty One Apples Acrylic, watercolour and gouache on paper 53 x 66 cm £950

The next artwork featuring an apple is Rebecca Guyver’s egg tempera painting I Used to be Cool, Now I Paint Flowers. Rebecca explains how she loves the luminous colours that can be achieved from layering pigment when working in egg tempera. She learnt the art of egg tempera from Ruth Stage and Mick Kirkbridge when she was the New English Art Club drawing scholar in 2017-2018.

The lively image, featuring bright colours and detailed patterns, cleverly combines still life and portraiture through the use of the mirror. Rebecca has described this painting: ‘I paint by looking to explore, find out and delight. This self-portrait gave me license to paint a person, flowers, objects and to use the colour, pattern and drama that I love. Perhaps indulgent, but also the tale of how I flipped a difficult year and the story of how I approach ageing.’ The green apple sits strikingly in the foreground, against harmonious colours of the patterned cloth underneath it. 

Rebecca Guyver I Used to be Cool - Now I Paint Flowers Egg Tempera 30 x 27 cm £500

Next, we look at Simon Harwood’s oil painting Apples/Poems. The carrier bags obscure the apples, but Simon explains how he discovered the apples and came to paint them; ‘I found these apples a few hundred yards from where I live, in an abandoned allotment site. They were dripping from a small tree, strikingly rosy and glowing, different to shop-bought ones, so I brought them home and kept them in the bags to work on. It seemed apt.’

The slightly translucent material of the carrier bag allows enough light through that the shape and form of the apples can be made out, and they are depicted with a bright green glow on top of the bright white table, with light and shadow being used cleverly to create the folds and wrinkles of the bags and table cloth.

Simon has also explained his artistic practice more broadly, saying: ‘I inhabit places, parts of the world I can reach and let them soak into me. Something then comes out of me as drawings, paintings, and reliefs. The whole process makes me see the world differently and more clearly.’

Simon Harwood Apples/Poem Oil on canvas 75 x 90 cm £690

The last painting in the collection to feature an apple is Margo Random’s oil painting Big Fruit at Night. Although Margo has painted a bowl with a selection of fruits, the apple features most prominently, sitting in the foreground of the fruit bowl. Her strong shadows and bright use of colours create a striking and eye-catching image.

Margo writes: ‘I am interested in exploring different colour palettes and unusual compositions to impart a mood or feeling. I hope that all my work, whether it be a portrait or a bowl of fruit, contains some emotional undertones. I also like to make art viewing the composition as a whole and not get too bogged down in detail. In this way, I hope to engage the viewer in a two-way conversation that leaves room for their own feelings and interpretations. In the past year's lockdown, I've become very interested in the primal, elemental shapes and colours of fruit. In this painting, the fruit is larger than life, semi-abstracted and perhaps a bit melancholy in the nighttime indoor light.’

Margo Random Big Fruit at Night Oil on board 60 x 50 cm £500

Article written by Hannah Martin

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