Philip Barlow crafted a work of art in which he applied human ideas of love to inanimate objects. It is small and oil on canvass. The cost is substantial despite its size; it is listed at $2000. The subject is two lemons on a table propped in such a way that the protruding remains of style portions of the lemons are touching each other. The work is titled Love Gone Sour. This could be interpreted many ways. The lemons on the table are simple and clean, in contrast to the idea of the paintings title; love going sour while the subjects kiss.
Realism is the style of the painting. The chiaroscuro of the vibrant shading is what gives the lemons such a dramatic three dimensional quality. Shade created by complementary colors grace the bottoms of the lemons and cast a shadow at their base. It seems like they are being lit from above which is common for a table.
Barlow paints the colors of the lemons as vibrant hues of yellow and orange. The shadows on the lemons seem to be derived from complementary colors because even the shadows seem vibrant. It leads one to wonder if Barlow intended to portray something specific within the vibrant shadows and personified title.
Rhythmic patterns in the painting are simple; one element is in focus, yet repeated as there are two lemons. They are set upon the table which is a continuous line that supports the fluctuations of repetition found within the lemons lines. The background is negative space that acts in a way that does not distract from the foreground, giving the subject ample space to play out its theme. The colors are of a harmonious nature, because of the fluctuations of the dark and light hues, leading your eye back to the center of the picture where the two lemons kiss.
In the picture, the lemons are balanced in a way that seems natural. Slightly different in shape, the lemons remind us that their similar texture, color and position make them both similar and different at the same time. This can be taken as a very literal metaphor for people. We are individuals, yet we are also essentially the same makeup. There is very little genetic variation to the human genome. We all have identities. The lack of dissonance creates a picture that conveys realistic principals. There is nothing abstract about the scene. The picture combined with the title is a real experience that many people have, yet we must work though our own cultural conditionings to get past our superficial understanding of what it means when we are “soured” towards those we love. Does the gentle touch of the two lemons despite the implication of soured love offer a suggestion to such a dilemma?
Overall the picture speaks of a strong balance. There is a very notable symmetry within the picture, with its simple focal point made up of realistic forms. The balance of this picture moves your eyes into the apex of the picture, a very notable point, again and again. It is unusual for two pieces of fruit to be arranged in such a manner. Yet the point in which they meet is the kiss that gives the work its name. The kiss however, requires balance. Balancing the lemons to move up the point of each other’s remains of style makes the lemons literally balance within the painting.
The background of the picture is mostly subdued and therefore not noticeable. The perspective is quite focused on one thing, the lemons. There is a minor recession from the front line of the table and the lemons, which elicit a foreground (the front of the table,) mid ground (lemons,) and then the background (table disappearing into negative space.)
Lemons are familiar. We know how they feel, how they smell, and how they taste. Finding reasons to sour love is also familiar to us. Barlow uses familiarity in a way that awakens our senses and makes us think about or relationships. Re occurring circular patterns on the lemons allow a dimpled textured impression. There are also many highlights within these that lend a hand to the three dimensional quality as well as the waxy sheen found on lemon skin surfaces. Everyone feels differently about how they handle love. Love is easy until circumstances that are not favorable arrive. There are different types of love. Such as affectionate love, charity love, romantic love, and unconditional love.
The subject is also yellow. Yellow is a warm color, some think of it as representative of the mind and intellect. Either optimistic, or critical, it is our choice on how to intellectualize situations of love. We can choose love despite circumstances, because love is a verb.
Although Love Gone Sour is up to interpretation based on our own personal understanding and experience of love, it is clear that the picture poses a suggested rout. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. In this specific interpretation Barlow’s expression of this love dilemma appears to be abstracted in such a way that when love seems sour, be the love that you seek. Kiss and make up.