David Burliuk – Cyclamens (1954)

I often find myself underwhelmed by still life. I can understand its function – particularly for budding artists – as a test lab for experimenting with multiple perspectives or different applications of colors, of measuring angles, playing with negative spaces and looking for rapports between different objects. Emotionally, however, I am often completely detached when gazing at it.

This isn’t the case with Cyclamens. Set against the beautiful landscape of the Italian island of Capri, the fiery red cyclamen flowers stand in stark contrast with the cool blues of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the towering plateau. You can almost taste the salty breeze, while the three tangerines in the foreground whet your appetite even more. The ruby red petals and bright, cerulean blue sea create an intense energy in the painting, celebrating the force of life.

David Burliuk - Cyclamens
David Burliuk – Cyclamens (1954), oil on canvas

Cyclamens is part of a series of works that Ukrainian artist David Burliuk preferred to do in the later part of his life. The painting is similar to his other still lifes, in that it follows the pattern of setting vibrant flowers against a landscape, usually the sea. Burliuk is mostly known for his earlier, more colorful and imaginative works, defined by an eclectic mixture of Fauvist, Cubist and Futuristic influences. Once he moved to the US his style mellowed and became more realistic, but still captivating nonetheless.

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