Kirk Cheng invites us to stop and smell the roses at his new solo exhibition “Circle of Life” at the Above Second gallery in Hong Kong. Cheng being a floral artist, he constructs fantastical floral sculptures that appear as if they derive from ecosystems from another planet. Flowers, which are often used as just a decoration, are now in full bloom as the main attraction. Cheng uses striking, vibrant colors with unique plants that are arranged in circles, taking over the gallery space in all their glory. Like every plant, these magnificent flora pieces will start to die, whither, and decay. Although this death is bittersweet, the artist intentionally shows this process, hence the title of the exhibition “Circle of Life.”
An organic beauty can be found in seeing different stages of the lifecycle of Cheng’s floral arrangements. Death is natural, but it always stems from life. The decaying plants have their own unique aesthetic, as their colors are now dark and their texture changed. Seeing the flowers transform into different colors and their pedals turn hard and crispy is both intriguing and interactive, as the exhibition becomes ever changing. No doubt if you saw Cheng’s work at the end of the exhibition, it would look like an entirely different show than at the beginning. Perhaps displaying the dead flowers next to the thriving ones makes the living flowers seem even more full and vivacious. Seeing such an honest example of the cycle of life holds its own tragic beauty, allowing us to experience the magnificence of life. (via Hi Fructose)
Artist and filmmaker Philip Haas has taken 16th century paintings and brought them into modern day in the form of larger than life sculptures. Haas has created four busts of the paintings titled The Four Seasons by Renaissance painter Giuseppe Arcimboldo. The original paintings portray four busts cleverly formed from fruits, vegetables, and flora that represent each of the four seasons. The piece Autumn appropriately displays lush fruit making up the person’s plump cheeks, while Winter is revealed through bare twigs for hair and lumpy roots for the face. Haas’s sculptures are enormous and spectacular replicas of these paintings, down to every last plant that makes up the face of each character. The paintings as well as the sculptures portray and compare the never-ending cycle of life and unavoidable aging of humans in a beautiful and fascinating way.
What is absolutely amazing about the work being re-imagined and recreated as sculptures is that each of the works are fifteen feet high. Each intricate face completely engulfs the viewer in its interesting details, allowing you to examine every leaf, vegetable, and vine protruding from their facial features. Haas has given us a monumental series of works that shine a new light on the original masterpieces from the 1500’s. Haas’s sculptures have been shown all around the United States in a variety of unique venues including the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, the Atlanta Botanical Garden, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Spring is in full bloom in the work of Anne Ten Donkelaar, as she breathes new life into fragile shards of flora. Using photos of flowers, she collages together lush bouquets of plants in combinations that are unlike any you may find in the wild. Each bloom and root this Netherland based artist creates is mismatched with another. She even combines black and white nature photography with color, creating a striking affect. Donkelaar’s emphasis of the faint, subtle lines of the roots and stems moving through the composition beautifully compliment the flourishing flora. Her magical specimens are delicate and ethereal, as they seem to float in their frame. In fact, her work is suspended above the background by small pins, casting a contrasting shadow behind it.
“Weeds become poetry, each unique twig gets attention, nature seems to float.”
Donkelaar’s work shows off an eclectic assortment of plant types, as she displays cactus, succulents, and fungi amongst the layers and layers of wildflowers. The large variety of hue and color combined with the widely diverse nature in her work creates overwhelming visual detail and beauty that will have you searching through every leaf and pedal. The artist treats each piece with such love as to show the faint detail of each small bud that transforms and evolves into a new and thriving creation.
“By protecting these precious pieces under glass, I give the objects a second life and hope to inspire people to make up their own stories about them.”
Michelle Morin’s works are beautifully detailed natural scenes depicting flora and fauna. Each of her pieces is full of painted texture, and puts an earthy calm spin on classical animal paintings. As a once professional gardener, she has a unique insight into her subject matter. I think it makes all the difference, don’t you?
Collage typeography illustration from Alexis Anne Mackenzie has an air of playfulness without being overly girly, or illustrated. She shows a beautiful balance between image and letter, with I’m sure a lot of painstaking thought put into each piece. Nicely done!