Ellen Hackl Fagan, of Odetta gallery and Elizabeth Garvey, of Garvey|Simon gallery are pleased to present Flower Power, featuring works by six contemporary artists exploring flora in a wide range of media. The two gallerists share a common aesthetic and are co-curating this exhibition. Artists include: Christopher Adams, Jackie Battenfield, Daisy Craddock, Sally Gil, Mel Prest, and Sung Won Yun.
Flowers, gently seductive in their ability to indelibly imprint upon us memories of first meetings, euphoria, and romance, inspire wonder. Flower Power explores both the materiality of flowers through different artistic media, and the entanglement of biological and emotional phenomena they represent. The six artists shown represent a variety of artistic practices, including ceramic, works on paper, and acrylic, and demonstrate the full spectrum from abstraction to realism. Each artist attends to the duality of their subject, offering up an array of technical innovations with which to capture the physicality of flora, and a diverse perspective on flora’s symbolic charge. Flower Power at once enhances and unravels the romance of its muse.
Christopher Adams’s ceramic sculptures play on the concept of adaptive radiation, whereby a pioneering organism enters an untapped environment and then differentiates rapidly without departing too much from its original form. While they have a biomorphic quality, the natural habitat for Adams’s sculptures is fantasy. His most recent iteration of the organism is suggestive of hibiscus flowers, although rendered in varying shades of gray. Ranging from a deep charcoal to blue-tinged pearl, the sculptures hover like specters over their terrain and appear frozen in time.
Jackie Battenfield is known for her luminous paintings and prints of flora. Her works explore her fascination with qualities of color and transparent veils. Her use of Mylar creates a bridge between painting and photography, as the fluid paints lie on the surface of this synthetic film. Because the Mylar does not absorb the paint, the pigment ebbs and wanes across the pictorial plane, evoking the fragility of flower petals. Almost photogram-like in their appearance, her works at once point back to and give new life to Edo-period Japanese screen paintings.
Daisy Craddock uses oil pastel to create tactile diptychs of fruits, vegetables, and flora. Her interest in microcosm and macrocosm converge in this work, and offer unique glimpses of her subjects’ interior and exterior texture and color. Craddock’s diptychs take on a fresh scent with her morning glory series, Late Afternoon (3rd), and Morning (3rd). While the left sides of both works accentuate the rich, sumptuous depths of the morning glory’s indigo and violets petals, the right sides portray the gradation from pale yellow to corn blue in the interior of the flower. These color field studies challenge the boundary between abstraction and realism.
Sally Gil’s collages use floral imagery as a means through which to consider time. Not only do her works represent a process of organic accumulation, but they are coded with the lifecycle of the flower, as well. The convergence of these two temporalities is demonstrated in Inverted Black Hole, 2010. The lone daffodil sprouts from the fertilizer of past detritus and functions as a memento mori against the timeless void of the black hole. Her works are at once effervescent and weighted, nodding both to vitality and expiration.
Mel Prest explores color phenomena observed in landscapes and light. Her large paintings are about subtlety, creating tension with their attention to the all-encompassing atmosphere of the flowers’ surround—such as the scent of the evening and the kinesthesia of outdoor shape-spaces as they responded to temperatures and weather. Through hand-painted lines that become wobbly strata, and then accumulate into a soft geometry, Prest creates perceptual puzzles that tangle the illusion of two-dimensional space.
Sung Won Yun uses her highly methodical mode of abstraction as a means through which to represent biological processes over time. Her most recent body of work uses multiple layers of semi-transparent paper to concretize the experience of duration. Her drawings explore flora at a molecular level, utilizing the depth of her pictorial field to endow her subjects with an ancient, almost primordial age.