Still-life with Violin and Flowers

Adamson-Eric Still-life with Violin and Flowers 1933 oil, canvas 60.2 × 81.4 cm

It is difficult to find another genre that is so constructed as the still-life. While in the case of landscape views artists often rely on chance, even going out to look for it, delighting in the wind rising unexpectedly or in the rapid and uncontrollable change in light and colour, in still-lifes they (usually) arrange all the details, constructing a complete composition. Vaikelu viiuli ja lilledega [Still-Life with a Violin and Flowers] is not in any case a coincidental association. The violin is not a marginal instrument for Adamson-Eric. He depicted it often and it adds lyricism to a painting solely by its presence. Beside it he has placed a blossoming bouquet of flowers, a classic participant in still-lifes, admittedly moving away from the original meaning of natura morta (in translation, dead nature) and symbolising unrestrained vitality with its exuberance. (Which, true enough, is destined to wither shortly.) Adamson-Eric’s primary attention, however, is nevertheless on colour and transitions instead, since the background and foreground blend in together almost imperceptibly so that it is impossible to put your finger on the exact place where the transition takes place. Contours are blurred and reality retreats, leaving the space of the painting to the artist’s subjective way of seeing the world. Regardless of how set the entire composition is, the vigour with which Adamson-Eric has depicted the flower bouquet is astonishing, as is the attention that he has lavished not only on the colouring and different nuances of form, but also on the energy pulsating in the bouquet – and by comparison how empty he has left the left-hand side of the picture. These two – perfect vitality and absolute emptiness – amplify each other, blossoming and withering join together, life and death kiss.