I was introduced to the work of Georgio Morandi several years ago by my friend Barbara Fitzpatrick, who is an architect, painter, and now my drawing instructor. At first I was puzzled by her enthusiasm for what looked to me like dull, repetitive, almost monochromatic, paintings of bottles and boxes? painted chunks of cement? blocks of old cheese? I couldn’t even always make out what the objects were. But Barb assured me I should keep on looking. So look I did. And the work began to intrigue me.
And I found myself going back to look again and again. The paintings are quiet, deceptively simple. The objects can appear both flat and 3 dimensional at the same time.
Despite the apparent lack of color, there are many subtle shifts of value.
When I first started drawing with Barb as my teacher, she had us look at Morandi carefully and attempt to draw one of his still lifes. And it was then that I really started to look at the relationships among his objects, the shapes and volumes of his forms, the spaces between the bottles and boxes, the shadows, the subtle textural shifts, the places where one object almost, almost fades into another, but just doesn’t quite. or perhaps, in fact, does.
But the aha! moment really came very recently. I had been working on a piece and I knew it was close to finished, but I was reverse appliqueing shapes to a background and I couldn’t get them quite right. I was satisfied with the shapes themselves and the background was good too. But they wouldn’t come together. And then, the Morandi moment. . . . I remembered to look at the negative space. And that was it. Bang, they came together. Thank you Morandi (and Barbara).