Perhaps I’m naive, but when I painted this woman feasting on cherries I wanted to celebrate the luscious gifts of summer, the joy of being alive and pleasure of being in one’s own skin. I often paint nudes and they may be self-portraits even when they don’t resemble me at all. Because it’s not the shape of my body or the colour of my hair that I want to portray. I try to capture my joie de vie in a particular moment or my despair, my solitude or a deep connection or understanding in the next. It’s all about a feeling.
I was shocked when this image was censored by an Australian newspaper. Was the colour too bright? The medium too oily? The proportions too exaggerated? Did they think that the sweet fruits represented a mouth-watering vagina? Was the tiny glimpse of pubic hair too confronting? Whatever the reason this portrait remained out of print, I think it was a mistake. Let’s celebrate the female form and the decadence of the harvest.
Les Cerises, oil on canvas, 90×90 cm, copyright Jeni McMillan