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The Fruit of Wojtkiewicz’s Labor

Rosette Series #29

Fruit has always had its place in art, particularly in paintings. Rene Magritte’s The Son of Man (the image of a man with a floating apple obscuring his face) is still discussed in both casual and professional circles. Still-life paintings capturing food are abundant. But there is one artist who takes his dedication to fruit so seriously, it looks good enough to eat.

Dennis Wojtkiewicz’s portfolio consists almost entirely of paintings of fruit and flowers, rendered with hyper-realistic detail. A cross-section of a kiwi, for example, features the fine hair of the skin and each individual cell accounted for. What appears to be an abstract pink mountain range is a close-up of a peach slice. You’d be forgiven if you mistook them for photographs; the lighting in particular adds to the illusion.

In an interview with My Modern Met, Wojtkiewicz said he used to be a figure painter, but the literal interpretation of his works bothered him. “Using fruit as a subject matter,” he explained, “gave me much more latitude in constructing an image. I’m trying to approach a very accessible, traditional format in perhaps a more contemporary way- minimal in form, yet very complicated in process.”

This contemporary approach also lends itself into the colors. Pieces in Wojtkiewicz’s “Abstract” collection sometimes feature unnatural hues for the fruits in question. For example, there is no naturally blue citrus in the world, but “Citrus Series #23” features it. This could be considered a metaphor for decomposition, but that’s not the only interpretation.

Citrus Series #23

“There are a number of elements in the visual undertow which can function as a metaphor or serve to represent [various themes],” he told My Modern Met. A few themes he suggested included spirituality, reproduction, relationships, and “the transitory nature of all living things.” Ultimately, it is up to the viewer to decide the meaning, if there even is one.

As for the painting process, it’s as detailed as the creations themselves. Wojtkiewicz told Twisted Sifter that each painting starts with a monochrome base. “Subsequent layers of semi-opaque through to transparent colors follow, with up to ten passes before the end result is achieved. The process is, in essence, a modified version of techniques used by Northern European Masters, Vermeer being of the greatest in influence.” The process is not unlike the development of photographs, making the photorealistic nature all the more apropos.

When not in the studio, Wojtkiewicz works as a Professor of Art at Bowling Green State University. He’s been teaching painting and drawing since 1988. Previously, he earned his MFA at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and studied in France at the Atelier Neo-Medici. He was born in Chicago in 1956. He currently resides in Ohio.

Daylilly Series #5

It’s worth mentioning that Wojtkiewicz doesn’t paint fruit and fruit alone. He also has an extensive collection of flower close-ups, ranging from dahlias to daylilies. There are a few vegetables in his garden of still lives as well; both onions and tomatoes make appearances in his online galleries. The tomato is currently up for sale on his website.

“When I go into the studio, it is with the intent of imbuing the paintings with a living spirit and to realize something that will connect with the viewer on a sensual if not metaphysical plane.” The connection is up to the viewer themselves. But few can deny the technical prowess and level of detail on display. The dedication to these photorealistic masterpieces is unparalleled and absolutely worth admiration.

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