In the early 1980s, Fielding's work saw a shift from the abstract, gestural painting which had characterised his early pictures to a style which was more allusive in character and, in terms of composition, more suggestive of still life. In Cherry the connotations of still life are pronounced. Various elements are arranged on an asymmetrical field of red, which implies a surface such as a tabletop, while providing a backdrop for character-like images such as the looping brushstroke at the left. This brushstroke recalls the calligraphic character of Fielding's paintings of the 1970s, which drew inspiration from Japanese brush painting. On the right, various circular forms suggest, among other things, a bowl, a pair of cherries and, at the top right corner, a dish containing apples or pears. These shapes can also be read as a figure - the cherry sprig as an outstretched arm with pointing finger, the incised lines describing fruit in the dish evoking the eye-sockets of a skull. Cherry can therefore be understood as a memento mori. Fielding was aware that he was terminally ill, and the skeletal finger and skull were recurrent images in his work at this time.

Further reading:
Brian Fielding: New Paintings and Paintings 1960-1983, exhibition catalogue, Mappin Art Gallery, Sheffield 1986, reproduced p.13 in colour

Terry Riggs
November 1997