Anthophile

15 - 31 May 2018

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An exhibition curated by Yan Skates.

From Botticelli’s Primavera and the floral paintings of the Dutch masters to Jeff Koons’ Bouquet of Tulips, artists have used flowers throughout the centuries to employ symbolism. Anthophile brings together 12 artists, both emerging and established, using botanical displays to create their own vanitas, re-examining still life’s associations with mortality, materialism and spirituality or as a tool to add commentary to a range of important contemporary issues.

The exhibition celebrates artists with varied disciplines, in both media and approach. Ranging from sculptor Phoebe Cummings’ temporal and performative clay compositions and Phil Hale’s or Gitte Valentiner-Branth’s striking, high-contrast paintings, to the mixed media work of artist Julie Cockburn, who uses found paintings and photographs and embellishes them with the inexpensive and readily available, invoking an Arte Povera approach to materials and assemblage. This approach is also visible in Gordon Cheung’s psychedelic layered works of spray paint, pastels and stock listings and Tracey Emin’s still life painting on newsprint.

Emma Bass’s vivid photographs The Punk (2017) and The Great Floral Crisis (2018) bring a hyper-real explosion of colour, the latter extends the artist’s research into Dutch still life paintings and references the 17th century “Tulip Mania” phenomenon.

Carolina Mizrahi’s new series Ikebana Tropical is influenced by the art of Japanese flower arrangements. Historically used for altars and to welcome ancestral spirits into the home, Ikebana was also a practice that aimed to signify the representation of time and thought. Mizrahi’s resulting images are both transitory and architectural in style.

Rebecca Stevenson and Ann Carrington present ‘memento mori’-style compositions in new sculptural work for this exhibition. Stevenson’s wax and resin sculptures take on forms that are both visceral and baroque as flowers blossom from the heads and bodies of animal subjects. In contrast, Carrington’s silverware bouquets use inanimate items that we accumulate over a lifetime and ultimately, and ironically, outlive us.

Rachel Dein’s practice produces familiar natural landscapes through her botanical castings that continue to explore and capture the ephemeral. Dein’s plaster structures are evocative of rare Elizabethan plaster friezes and are unassuming and modest in both the materials used and subject matter.

 As a whole, the collection of works presented in Anthophile conjures both personal and universal responses to compositions that serve as a record and memorial to animate objects suspended in a fleeting moment.


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