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  • by Janet St. John

Art & Soul Short #25

Still Life with Apples and a Pot of Primroses.Paul Cézanne (French, Aix-en-Provence 1839–1906 Aix-en-Provence) ca. 1890. Oil on canvas. 28 3/4 x 36 3/8 in. (73 x 92.4 cm). Courtesty of

The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Stilling Life

He paints the ripening apples nestled on the white linen tablecloth with its scrunched hills and fruit-weighted valleys. He wants to showcase his ability to recreate in oils, make the fabric feel-able, the green, orange, red, yellow apples so real we want to reach in and grab one. Bite. Crunch. Taste the sweet-crisp of autumn that the apples evoke. He wants us to be tempted, as he is, to take it all in at once—apple trees’ turning hues, the way the air sucks the green out, drains the last bright energy stored since summer. How the tablecloth portends winter snow. Apples stored in the cold below-ground cellar. How the primrose that brought first blooms in spring, bloomed again in summer, flowering even after being uprooted, potted, taken indoors. That white-petaled innocence represents spring long gone or spring to come, first love, rebirth, or winter death, blank nothing. Dainty captive in a green-grey flower pot, arranged on a table like a woman made to model, perform her duty as directed, look just so. Made still and unwavering despite wind through the blown open front door. It sends an apple rolling off one corner, causes a huff, the artist rising, rearranging, reconsidering. His fickle passion. He forces life into stopped motion on canvas because he cannot shutter-stop anything else in life. He eats with his eyes, wants to leave behind an appetizing display. Apple temptation. Some desire to play god.

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