Flower Power: FLORILEGIA

This winter the art world appears to be particularly focused on the organic aesthetic of flowers. I have recently written about Jeremy Deller’s latest exhibition Love is Enough, which draws on flower power between the greats of Andy Warhol and William Morris; but there are others too, budding (excuse the floral pun) around the country. A Crazed Flowering recently closed at Frameless Gallery in Farringdon – this saw paintings and sculptures demonstrating themes of growth, transformation and decay in flowers and their surrounding environments. In Tokyo, The National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation have paired up with teamLab to introduce Shake! Art Exhibition!, where the stunning digital installation Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together, for Eternity is on display. This work – along with many other works on display in the museum – takes flowers as a central theme, suspending their structure and beauty in an infinite canvas through the form of an interactive installation display.

Yesterday, I pursued the art world’s path of flowers to Grimaldi Gavin Gallery in Green Park, just around the corner from the Royal Academy of Arts. This month, Grimaldi Gavin unveiled their most recent exhibition: FLORILEGIA, featuring the works of Goldschmied & Chiari, Fabio Zonta, Laura Letinsky, Jonny Briggs and Sinaida Michalskaja. The gallery is hidden within a large building containing other offices; once inside, a descending staircase leads you down to a flowering utopia of photographic works hung below a greenhouse-esque ceiling – rather fitting to the theme.

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It would be hard to complete an exhibit on flowers without reference to the great Claude Monet, which is exactly what Goldschmied & Chiari have done in their works Nympheas’ (2007). This work frames blossoming water lilies in a serene pond setting; much like Monet’s original except upon closer look the flowers reveal themselves as floating plastic bags. Immediately one can start to see connections between our past idyllic, natural environment, and our current polluted, urban society. I felt these works extremely relevant to contemporary society and culture, and helped to pronounce the serious consequences our world is experiencing as a result of mass wastage and lack of recycling.

Sinaida Michalskaja’s photographic works beautifully frame the way our current society live alongside nature and flowers. She demonstrates the way we bring wild flowers into our homes, somewhat domesticating them by placing stems in vases, arranged into a suitable aesthetic composition. She juxtaposes this image with an opposing view point, showing pink florals flourishing inside a house with a slight reflection of exterior nature, untamed on other side of the window. Fabio Zonta’s floral portraits focus primarily on the single bloom of a flower, either capturing their full beauty or gradual demise as the petals start to curl and bruise. Zonta’s flower headshots concentrate on themes of ephemerality in nature, and the idea of fading beauty in the contemporary.

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January is fast appearing to be the month for flowers, something which will only continue as spring approaches – the season for florals. FLORILEGIA is open until the 28 February at Grimaldi Gavin Gallery; I urge you to go and see it on your lunch break for a colourful, posy pick-me-up in the bleak grey of January.

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