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James Aponovich: A Retrospective

March 18 - June 20, 2005

 

(above: James Aponovich, Lucca: Still Life with Apples, 1996, oil on canvas)

 

If you've ever seen a painting with strawberries so real you can taste them, lilies so vivid you can smell them, details so perfect you can't believe they're in two dimensions, it may well have been created by New Hampshire artist James Aponovich. Internationally recognized as an accomplished still life painter, Aponovich is renowned for his ability to combine imagination with technical mastery, creating images that are inevitably described as magical. (right: James Aponovich, Portrait of Elizabeth Johansson, 1988, graphite on paper. Collection of the artist)

Beginning March 18, the Currier Museum of Art presents James Aponovich: A Retrospective, featuring 50 works, including 35 major paintings as well as drawings and prints from the artist's distinguished 30-year career. The exhibition ends June 20, 2005 and will be accompanied by a 42-page catalogue, James Aponovich: A Retrospective, with essays by New Hampshire writer Howard Mansfield and Associate Curator Kurt Sundstrom.

While his work has been collected by individuals, corporations, and such museums as the Art Institute of Chicago, the Portland Museum of Art, Maine, the Currier Museum of Art, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, this is the artist's first major retrospective. The exhibition ranges from his distinctive still lifes to sweeping landscapes to more recent paintings filled with a sensual array of flowers and domestic objects set before an Italianate landscape. Inspired by ancient and Renaissance art as well as Dutch seventeenth-century painting, Aponovich's paintings have been described as "magical" and "ethereal" -- in the words of author Howard Mansfield, "his tulips seem improbable, otherworldly."

James Aponovich: A Retrospective was organized by the Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire, in association with Hackett-Freedman Gallery, San Francisco.[1]

 

From Nashua to Tuscany

A native of Nashua, Aponovich decided to become a painter as an undergraduate at the University of New Hampshire, where he received a BA in 1971. His mastery of composition and draftsmanship revealed itself early, as in 1975's graphite-on-paper Portrait of Deborah. His first solo exhibition at the Currier in 1979 and another in 1982 at the Alpha Gallery in Boston launched a wave of critical recognition, and the Currier hosted a more extensive solo exhibition of Aponovich's work in 1985.

Also in the 1980s, he created the Merrimack River series, an ambitious cycle of 12 large landscape paintings. In one of the canvases from the series, Gateway to Concord, 1986, Aponovich juxtaposes factories and parking lots with the natural environment, recalling old pastoral traditions in which humankind lives in harmony with nature. At the same time, the artist began to explore the use of symbolic elements in his work to refer to his grief over his daughter Ana's battle with illness, creating two particularly striking paintings, Portrait of Ana, 1984 and Self Portrait with Ana in the Studio, 1985.

In the 1990s, when Aponovich felt he needed to reinvigorate his work, he went to Italy to study, first-hand, the artists who had been his longtime guides. Inspired by the art of the Renaissance and the Tuscan landscape, the artist began to place his still lifes before an idealized landscape rather than the more typical plain backdrop, creating such works as 2004's dreamlike Castello Nuovo: Still Life with Day Lilies and Watermelon. (left: Castello Nuovo: Still Life with Day Lilies and Watermelon, 2004, oil on canvas. Lent by Hackett-Freedman Gallery, San Francisco, CA)

 

Gallery tours and talks:

Two gallery talks at the Currier further explore the life and work of the artist. On Sunday, May 15, Director of Public Programs Leah Fox presents a gallery talk on James Aponovich: A Retrospective, beginning at 2:00 pm. On Sunday, May 22, Kurt Sundstrom, curator of the exhibition, will join James Aponovich himself in a discussion of his life and work in the galleries in an Artist Gallery Talk -- also beginning at 2:00 pm.

Additional gallery tours, led by a museum docent, explore James Aponovich: A Retrospective at 2:00 pm on April 10, May 1, and June 19. Families and visitors of all ages will enjoy activities in the Drawing Room, themed to the artist's still lifes.

 

(above: James Aponovich, Barga: Still Life with Itoh Peonies, 2004, oil on canvas. Lent by Hackett-Freedman Gallery, San Francisco, CA)

 

Future New Hampshire Institute of Art Exhibition:

From April 5 to May 5, 2005, the New Hampshire Institute of Art presents James Aponovich: The Process of Creativity. Aponovich, who is the Institute's current artist in residence, will display studies and finished paintings demonstrating his creative process. The exhibition is on view in the Institute's Main Building Gallery, 148 Concord Street, Manchester, NH. Gallery hours are available on the Institute's web site. [2]

 

Editor's notes:

1. The Hackett-Freedman Gallery web site has pages containing a biography on James Aponovich and a catalogue essay on the artist titled From the Real to the Ideal by Charles Giuliano, a Boston-based critic, curator and artist.

2. James Aponovich will present a lecture at the Institute April 14 from 5:30 PM to 7:30 pm.


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