Oranges are the only fruit

Looking for an object to fill me with inspiration I walk around (and around) a local covered market and follow the scent of oranges and bright posters to a local museum to see how an object can be used as Art.

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‘I’m having Art for lunch’ says a visitor as another orange is taken from the top of a pyramid.  The removal of the orange feels organic as it fits perfectly inside the palm. The negative space of the shape assembled by Roelof Louw is growing as each visitor physically digests the sculpture. Viewers of the work approach the mammoth pyramid that originally has 6,000 oranges with equal measures of awe and excitement.  With the room smelling acidic from the fruit that is slowly decomposing, the viewers around me embrace the concept of deconstructing the work with bold glee.

Louw previously exhibited a show entitled ‘Location’ at Modern Art Oxford in 1969 and was attracted by the space of the large upper gallery.  His work is often defined by the location it interacts with; in the ‘Holland Park’ photographs planks of wood are piled upon dead leaves to find the boundary of where nature ends. His work endures in uniformity as it is made anew somewhere else exactly according to Louw’s original instructions.

Louw’s early sculptures prove seminal because they are made of cheap material and are not placed on a plinth.  Copies of the brochure that accompanied his ‘Location’ exhibition are on show along with his own letters and images of his temporary installations.  The hand-written communications that lead up to his 1969 show reveal touching honesty.  Louw is open about his telephone being disconnected due to lack of funds but offers to purchase the photographic negatives taken of his work.  Full recognition of his talents as a conceptual Artist followed and evidence of his importance lies in this gallery.

The black and white photographs of London’s ‘Park Lane’ (1968) are full of detail and strong composition.  After closer inspection cast-iron wedges are found to be placed along the street, breaking up perfect symmetry and pointing out the areas made by man.  Louw accentuates the barriers between materials that have been newly added, such as pavement to the road.

Depicting the uniformity of the classical architecture of London points out something that is established and ripe to be changed.  The experiment to place the cast-iron wedges can be repeated but the space has changed.  This highlights a duality in the work which although meticulously reproduced, demonstrates how a moment can never be regained and how the passage of time is unstoppable.

Eventually there will be just one solo orange remaining in the pyramid standing proud in the centre of the room and no doubt this too will be somebody else’s Art to be digested for lunch.  A theme of the work appears to be that everything must go.  Taking my orange, from ‘Pyramid (Soul City)’ 1967, and holding it in my hand I am consoled by the fact that we are what we eat.

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Investigate the work of Roelof Louw at Modern Art Oxford  until 6 April

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60 thoughts on “Oranges are the only fruit

    • You can copy and paste the exact list from the Daily Post list. That works!

      I find visitors are eclectic in picking a post to try next so I like to have good selection. Variety is the spice of life!

      I’m so enjoying your posts from over the pond! Weather back here is hideous!!!!


    • They were huge!! They started my journey at the covered market. They tempted me on to all things orange and then oranges and then via the posters to the art show.

      Well spotted!!!! ;-D


  1. Really interesting post. I’m not familiar with Louw’s work. You created a nice learning moment for me today! I just looked him up and saw many of the things you described. Thanks for the lovely review of his work. Hope you have a wonderful day!


    • He was a new artist to me. He is in his 80s now so it was interesting to look back at the work from his early years. I love it when a piece of modern art keeps its ‘modernness!’

      Hope you are having a brilliant week! 😉


      • I love that, too. You’re lucky to be so close to good museums. I live 50 minutes outside of Washington DC and am lucky to be able to get there easily by taking a short car trip to the Metro and parking there. All of the galleries are my favorite destination.
        I am having a brilliant, but crazy busy, week! Hope you are, too–minus the crazy busy!


      • Enjoy!! Crazy busy sounds lots of fun! Ah lucky you! Washington DC has blissful architecture. I only know this from watching West Wing on TV! 😉 Have a great week.


      • If you ever make it there, let me know. We’ll look around the museums together! I’ve yet to cross the big blue Atlantic to make it to Europe. My husband lived in Germany for 8 years while in the Army and did lots of traveling around. England is his favorite place. He vows to get me there one day!
        You have a great week, too! 🙂


  2. Pingback: Wooden Letters | British Chick Across The Pond

    • Thank you. The room smelt so fruity I’m sure we were all getting a dose just by visiting! Weathers been so grey here nothing like a big handful of fruit to lift up the spirits 😉


  3. I checked out Louw’s art after your positive appraisal. What a great concept, an art that is interactive and enjoyed at the same time by admirers. Thanks for sharing this tasty modern art!


    • Thanks so much! I have been having a great time on your site enjoying your posts of Architecture and learning a lot about Bernini. Brilliant to enjoy his classical sculpture through your superb photographs.


      • Thank you! My photos are not enough to capture his brilliancy. I didn’t know blogging would help me to learn more about other art forms in a fun way, so thanks for doing that.


  4. Pingback: Weekly Writing Challenge – Object – 24 FEB 2014 | Joe's Musings

  5. Great post, Lita! I wasn’t familiar with Louw and thanks to your great description of his exhibit got to meet a great artist. I so love the way you write! 😉


    • I enjoyed the chance for me to learn more about a contemporary Artist I was unfamiliar with. I like Louw’s humour! Thanks so much for reading. I’m enjoying my visits to your site. I like your style!


  6. Pingback: The 16th of May 1973 – Louisville, Kentucky | Forgotten Correspondance

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  8. Pingback: Injecting object | Ireland, Multiple Sclerosis & Me

    • Aren’t they? So uplifting. Stacked in a pyramid like I saw in the gallery made their colour stand out vividly.

      Thanks for comment. I enjoy reading your posts and visiting your super blog.


  9. I clicked on this blog link with a totally different preconception of what it would be about, as I am almost finished reading Jeannette Winterson’s first novel, “Oranges are not the only Fruit.” Funny coincidence. And the post was nothing like the book, but both are well worth reading!


    • Yes. You are right of course! The gallery was so full of oranges all I could think about was the Jeanette Winterson title! Such an amazing book and in some ways made the orange an icon. Thank you for the comment!


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