Color Powder Pigments encapsulated on Acrylic tubes
Edition: 2+1 A/P | 2020
Work in progress: rendering and sketches
“Flowers in a Vase”, is a new body of works (sculptures and paintings) inspired by the works of 17th century female flowers painter Rachel Ruysch. Recognized within the history of art for her elegant still-life flower paintings, Ruysch transcended her mastery, her vision of style and nature and her perseverance. That is why her career precedes the present series of works, which title is inspired by her painting: “Flowers in a Vase”, attributed around 1700.
Far from examining some distant phenomenon, 17th-century Dutch still life offers an uncanny perspective on our own times, in which globalism and consumer culture seem to be reaching a peak, once again in tandem with one another.
What would you consider today’s most coveted status symbols? A Mercedes or a Ferrari, a diamond Rolex or a Channel handbag? A European villa? In Rachel Ruysch’s day it was a simple tulip. Looking at her floral still life paintings can reveal an entire hidden world of wealth and status.
However, some scholars believe there is another way to view Ruysch’s flower paintings. One common interpretation is to understand them in light of vanitas, a moral message common at the time. Taken from a passage in the Christian bible, it was a reminder that beauty fades and all living things must die. While still life paintings celebrated the beauty and luxury of fine food or voluptuous flowers, vanitas was a warning about the fleeting nature of these material things and the shortness of life. Wealthy Dutch consumers were being reminded to not become too attached to their material possessions and worldly pleasures.
By extrapolating her reality to mine, I have been able to connect with represented elements of her work, her working methods, and the underlaying matters. Rachel, perhaps unintentionally, empowered the artistic creation of women of her time and represented the culture of her country with extraordinary vision, perseverance and skill. I would like to believe, that behind all this tulip/flower-mania that she represents in her work, there is indeed a reminder that beauty fades, living things die and material possessions should not be an attachment to humankind. These subjects matters I continue to explore in these new series as well a deep study of Ruysch’s flowers imagery and color palettes through paintings and sculptures of pigment.