Ori Gersht Untitled 7
c-print mounted on aluminum
15 ¾ x 12 ¼ inches (framed)
Edition of 6Fake Estate
What Comes Naturally: Contemporary Flowers
June 11 through July 12, 2008
Doing "What Comes Naturally," usually refers to something racier than floral painting. But New York's Fake Estates, the experimental group show by that name demonstrates that a sharp and gritty artistic imagination can make even modest flowers appear more raw and earthy than nature intended. In the gallery's 80 square foot space (it was once a utility closet for a photographer's studio in the Chelsea Arts Building) the eleven works on view offer a variable bouquet for the senses. Exploding with color, rooted in historical references and showing a range of stylistic approaches, the works branch off into "deconstructing the iconography through various modes of irony and abstraction." As summed up by curator Glynnis McDaris, they "contribute to the ongoing effort on the part of artists to crystallize the essence of 'floweriness' rather than redefining their symbolism."
To achieve this effect, Liz Goldwyn's luxurious gold encrusted sculpture sensually represent flowers' vibrant opulence. In her 2007, Anemone sculpture, frame an Agathe Concha shell with chunky gold, creating a form that resembles an opulent oyster, or a cluster of pale roses.
Joseph Heidecker Liz Goldwyn Bouquet 4
, 2007 Anenome, 2007
Hand manipulated found photograph Agate Concha shell, gold
16 x 20 inches (framed)
Sarah E. Wood Shadow Plants
Plastic, vinyl, crepe paper, sand
Marc Swanson and Joe Mama Nitzberg Marc Swanson and Joe Mama Nitzberg Untitled (Darby Crash)
, 2008 Untitled (Halston)
16 x 20 inches 16 x 20 inches
Edition of 5 Edition of 5
Patterson Beckwith Patterson Beckwith
Untitled (Albertson's I)
, 2006 Untitled (Albertson's II)
16 x 20 inches 16 x 20 inches
Edition 3/5 Edition 3/5
And multi-media artist Marc Swanson's collaboration with photographer Joe-Mama Nitzberg documenting memorial floral arrangements for gay icons Halston and Darby Crash updates the traditional role of flowers as memento mori, whose beauty is heightened because it is so fast-fleeting.
Patterson Beckwith makes this juxtaposition blatant in before/after shots of electric blue daisies. They glow with their doctored beauty in one image. But then they are diminished to nothing but dry stalks and unnatural dye in the next. Like fading beauties for whom make-up and surgery only accentuates their age, these petal’s phony hue makes their inevitable decay seem more worthy of scorn than sympathy.
Anthony Fuller Flowers
30 x 30 inches
Edition of 6
Joyce Kim Gather the Black Flowers
Mixed media on canvas
52 x 70 inches
Pavel Buchler Old, Rare and Unusual Roses
Found tube of paint, book
9 x 12 x 4 inches
Joshua Smith Untitled (rose bouquet)
Israeli artist Ori Gersht also refuses to let his blooms grow withered gracefully. But his tactic is more rock & roll, than nip and tuck. Gersht fast-forwards this fleeting beauty by photographing flowers exploding in bursts, with petals flying like shrapnel.
The real flowers blooming in New York might wilt and fade when summer ends, but the ideas that grow out of these works will remain evergreen.
Ana Finel Honigman, New York
Ana Finel Honigman is a Berlin-based critic. She writes about contemporary art and fashion for magazines including Artforum.com, Art in America, V, TANK, Art Journal, Whitewall, Dazed & Confused, Saatchi Online, Style.com, Dazeddigital.com, British Vogue, Interview and the New York Times's Style section. A Sarah Lawrence graduate, Ana has completed a Masters degree and is currently reading for a D.Phil in the History of Art at Oxford University. She also teaches a contemporary art course for NYU's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development students. You can read her series Ana Finel Honigman Presents.
Photo: Maxime Ballesteros
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