Alison Goodwin’s painting Cantaloupe (2008) at ﬁrst appears, perhaps naively, to depict a still life of fruit and ﬂowers on a table: pomegranate, cantaloupe, sunﬂowers, and a drink. Beneath two rusty red and murky green lines, a diamond pattern demarcates the ﬂoor from the wall above. Next to the mottled green-and-red wall is a view through an open window. Three narrow houses lean precariously to the left; the windows are indicated, almost carelessly, by blocks of watery black paint. Two stylized trees with foliage shaped into bulbous spheres punctuate the row of buildings. Goodwin’s particular style, with its emphasis on a skewed perspective, ﬂattened forms, and broadly applied colors, cannot—and should not—be read as unsophisticated or unknowing. Rather, Goodwin’s paintings reinterpret the work of some of the most important nineteenth- and early twentieth-century painters. She deliberately evokes the style and subjects of European modernists such as Henri Matisse, Paul Gauguin, and Vincent van Gogh. Each of her paintings recalls the implied formal tension between depicted three-dimensional space and the literal ﬂatness of painted planes of color and stylized forms that her predecessors welcomed. Matisse, Cézanne, and others in the late nineteenth century rejected academic norms of picture making (painting realistically through modeling, shade, and one-point perspective). By revisiting these artists’ aesthetic, Goodwin complicates this historical progression and inserts her own mark onto the modernist (and particularly male-dominated) canon. [excerpt]
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Egan, Shannon. (Summer 2009) Fruit and Fish: Alison Goodwin’s Reimaging of the Modernist Motif. The Gettysburg Review 22(2):246-268.
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Used with permission from The Gettysburg Review