Succulents and Cactuses Bloom in the Collage Works of Stephen Eichhorn

Flora arranged in bursting, radiant amalgams take the fore in Stephen Eichhorn’s collages. This fall, in his first solo exhibition at CES Contemporary, Eichhorn presents 10 new works featuring found photographs of plants that he sources from magazines and books and appends to panels painted in bright acrylics. “My background is in drawing and sculpture, but I found this material and it kind of fulfilled the same things in terms of layering and mark-making,” the artist has said. “They have a structure to them on a formal level, so I wasn’t ever thinking about them first as plants.” Eichhorn’s 2012 collage, Succulent Cluster (Green), features succulents and cactuses of several varieties and their showy floral blooms against a spearmint green background. The plants emerge from the center of the picture plane, radiating outward. Spots of purple, orange, and yellow leaves or petals enter as painterly gestures as the small segments of each plant can be seen as discrete marks.

Eulogy (Pink Fade) (2013) clusters cactuses and red, pink, and orange wildflowers. The background waxes slowly from pale pink at the top to white at the bottom. The expressive title gives the bouquet a pensive, memorial quality, despite its effulgence. Similarly, Trance (Yellow Fade) (2012), depicts succulents and flowering branches as they sweep gracefully across the picture plane over a yellow-to-white ombré background.

 The artist’s Holy Mountain (Orange) (2012), shows spiky saguaro cactuses over a vivid orange base. The title acknowledges the psychedelic qualities of his work by alluding to the 1973 film Holy Mountain, by director Alejandro Jodorowsky, and the 1992 album by the trippy rock band Sleep, also titled after the movie. Loading his works with carefully placed information and imagery, Eichhorn develops the qualities we typically associate with still lifes, importing them into the medium of collage in unexpected ways.

Arrangements” is on view at CES Contemporary through October 26, 2014.

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