group show

Blomster / Flowers / Blumen

22.06 – 04.08.2012


Nobuyoshi Araki, Maxime Ballesteros, Anne Bennike, Fritz Bornstück, Ismar Cirkinagic, Eva Steen Christensen, Erik A. Frandsen, Søren Jensen, Karin Lorentzen, Heikki Marila, Mie Olise, Luzia Simons, Elisabeth Toubro, Michael Wesely, Kathrine Ærtebjerg

The motif of flowers is not a motif that is usually associated with contemporary art. In fact, in relation to art today, flowers are generally seen as being both a safe and a trivial theme. The FLOWERS exhibition puts these preconceptions to the test. In the exhibition, a number of Danish and international artists show that flowers can still be an interesting and pertinent motif – a motif which affords a considerably wide scope for relevance and meaning.


From a historical point of view, flowers became an independent motif during the Dutch baroque period. At this time, religious motifs were banned, giving rise to a market for other types of motifs. Even at that time, flowers were not an innocent theme. The baroque still-life paintings featuring flowers were tremendously expensive and exuded both wealth and power – in a decidedly sophisticated and sensual way. The sensual element continues to pervade today’s contemporary flower pictures, evoking an awareness of the vainness of sensuality.


The flower motif in art is still inextricably associated with a reminder of the ephemeral nature of all things. But unlike in baroque art, the element of moral finger pointing is absent in contemporary art. Today, ephemerality is more understood as an on-going transformation, rather than an admonition against never being consumed by that which is sensual – an admonition against never having too much fun.  


The works exhibited use a wide range of methods and techniques, and as a result, the scope of different themes and meanings of is extensive. Works such as those of Mie Olise and Ismar Cirkinagic mimic the botanist’s approach to fauna, where flowers are meticulously illustrated and categorised. The associations and categories portrayed by their works are, however, much different to that which would be of interest to a botanist. Consequently, the stayed concepts that are the norm for botany and biology are rejuvenated and revitalised.


In the exhibition, many works employ a range of photographic techniques, taking us away from photography as a mere prosaic registration of a subject. These diverse photographic techniques span from the apparently random snapshots of Araki to the advanced technical photographs of Luiza Simmons and Michael Wesley, who together portray not only the theme, but also show the diversity of the media itself.


Throughout history, the coupling of flowers and paintings has been a much maligned union, which is easily suffocated by the many references and historical associations with which it is plagued. The painters in this exhibition, however, show how this common history can be used as a fertile source, and for them it is an element against which they can react. Through the choice of materials they use, Søren Jensen and Eva Steen Christensen’s sculptural works provide the viewer with homely connotations and subtexts, but, through their form and in relation to the other works, their works also take on foreign and unnerving qualities.    


Because of its alluring and apparently superficial beauty, the motif of flowers is one that entices artists to use it in every way possible. It is a motif that willingly allows itself to be both used and exposed. And it is precisely for these reasons that the flower motif remains a thoroughly interesting subject for contemporary art today.

Photo credits: Jan Søndergaard