♢ EDITORIAL by Sal McIntyre, New York ♢
There is nothing better after a stretch of cold weather than filling a space with flowers— nature’s most compelling decoration. Nature has long been a subject matter revisited time and again by history’s greatest artists, past and present, providing an indisputable array of beauty with which all walks of life can associate. And flowers, in particular, are that mysterious living enigma, a burst of color, fragrance and joy that uplifts all who cross their path. Artwork of flowers seems to present a brilliant cross-contouring of nature’s most desirable display and the expressions of some of the world’s most adept visual creators. When an artist is in their element, the works of flowers navigate an almost otherworldly arena, creating a near living new entity that connects immediately to that powerful force within nature itself, and wielding the ability to weave color, joy and vitality into the lives that it touches.
Piet Mondrian is so overwhelmingly known for his infamous primary color rectangle paintings, it is hard to believe that he painted anything different— though his prolific genius is readily apparent when perusing his paintings of flowers. This Chrysanthemum is so delicate and strong it inspires a meditative quiet, his effortless brushstrokes calling forth a real spirit of nature.
With his large silhouette shapes and rich color choices, Donald Sultan is able to conjure the dreamy fever surrounding the essence of the poppy. This set of 5 silkscreen prints is furthermore printed with luxurious thick ink on bright fine matte paperboard, lending his Poppies a tactile quality that could silently sway any onlooker.
Picasso’s usual simplified epiphanies are what draw us in again and again, Le Vase de Fleurs being somehow rich with feeling and playful with bold shape at the same time. He manages to communicate the many layers of beauty hiding within a flower while confidently inscribing his own marks, in the masterful way that only Picasso can.
In a celebration of shape, where floral forms are distilled into two-dimensional pattern, artists Chagall and Marco Del Re fill the flat plane of design with shimmering nuance. In Derriere le Miroir, no.198 Cover, Chagall’s characteristic painterly sensitivities shine through, giving the black ink respectable command. And in Del Re’s Vase IV Bleu the graceful shapes take on a life of their own, seeming voluminous and full of motion.
Christian Rohlfs and Andreas Schon show us the more emotional character that flowers endlessly inhabit, opening the doorways to dreamscapes visited in half-sleep. Rote Cannas has a mystifying amount of detail considering the size and speed of the brushmarks, and Flowers has the enchanting effect of a soft focus photograph.
There is a distinct measure of sunlight that can be achieved simply through the use of the color yellow, the sunflower of which is nature’s best representation. This botanical etching Helenium Indicum Maximum (SOLD) by an unknown artist in nearly emitting light with its beautiful printing, and Ranunculus Flowers by Charles Belle is another breathtaking beauty, glowing quietly from within its dark background.
And perhaps a fair description of the force held within a flower is the craze sparked by the tulip in the Dutch Republic in 1637, known as Tulip Mania— where the prices for a single bulb skyrocketed to ten times a skilled craftsman’s yearly salary, and then dramatically collapsed. What magic must be held within such an item may never be measurable, though artwork seems to translate these mysteries fluently. Lowell Nesbitt’s Yellow Tulip and Per Arnoldi’s Tulipaner aren’t putting up many arguments otherwise.