Still life / Stilleben signed and dated 'Jo Busianis / 1931' (lower left); signed and titled on the passe par tout watercolour on paper 31.5 x 42.5 cm
Provenance: Private collection, Athens.
A rare find (in his monograph on the artist, Professor D. Deliyannis has recorded only sixteen known Bouzianis watercolour still lifes)1, this fluid and translucent jewel is a frugal composition of just four apples, becoming, nonetheless, an ideal vehicle for the artist to address issues of form and content, namely how to balance objects in space, how to extract meaning from simple, ordinary shapes and how to create a harmonious ensemble while economizing on expressive means. In his watercolour still lifes with apples, Bouzianis focuses on building harmonious interrelationships between the volumes.2
Showing great admiration to Cezanne and Gauguin, Bouzianis asserted the materiality of his forms, using strokes and touches of paint to affirm their physical presence as objects. We are always aware that we are looking at apples rather than coloured circles, but his pieces of fruit are, in fact, unlike any that we encounter in the real world. The picture, in Bouzianis view, is not an extension of that world but a separate space and order of existence. Furthermore, the translucent colouring, which immediately captures the eye, veers away from the subject and acquires an identity of its own.
Such precious gems as this still life had made an impact in Germany in the early 1930s. Reviewing the 1932 exhibition of Bouzianis watercolours at the Barchfeld gallery in Leipzig, art critic M. Schwimmer remarked: Employing the most frugal means, the artist conveys powerful and insightful impressions, a sense experience of form and colour more intense than any offered by even the best watercolours by Nolde or Kirchner.3
1. D. Deliyannis, Bouzianis [in Greek], Adam publ., Athens 1996, p. 229. 2. Ibid. 3. MS, Leipziger Volkszeitung daily, 23.12.1932.