Holding a Balance

oil - 50x62 inches
oil – 50×62 inches

I’ve always had a thing for Flemish still life, almost a dirty little secret for a painter of the modern age. Such decadently illustrative paintings may seem superfluous to the contemporary eye.

Johannes Vermeer - Woman Holding a Balance
Johannes Vermeer – Woman Holding a Balance

Johannes Vermeer’s work has a modern simplicity, allowing the viewer to focus on the figure. Vermeer’s painting of a Woman Holding a Balance was the first painting I fell in love with. I’m invoking the spirit of Vermeer here. In the background of Vermeer’s painting, there is a painting of the Last Judgement and his lady’s scales hold nothing. She is weighing her soul, her riches, perhaps her child to be born into original sin. This is the introspection brought about by the Protestant Reformation. It is a faith that requires one to be accountable to oneself. Here in the produce aisle, we have a similarly posed lady but she holds no balance. There are scales, but no Judgement, at least in the religious sense.

The child that Vermeer’s lady bears has been born in my painting. His mother selects from WIC approved produce while the other lady selects grapes instead of gold. Fresher produce being a sign of affluence, also calling to mind Hermes and the infant Dionysos.