In honour of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show we are once again holding our very own celebration of bloom and flora! Visit the artrepublic Flower Show to see the finest floral depictions in art and decide for yourself which artist deserves the ‘Best in Show’ prize…
Because of their varied and colourful appearance and their association with nature, life and decay, flowers have long been a favourite subject of visual artists. Some of the most celebrated paintings in art history are of flowers, such as Vincent Van Gogh’s sunflowers series and Claude Monet’s water lilies.
Apparently the first flower to be used in ancient art was the lotus. It is found on many Egyptian tombs as well as in sculptures from some of the oldest dynasties. Remains of fresco paintings depicting gardens full of flowers were found in the city of Pompeii revealing the Ancient Romans’ fancy for floral art.
Perhaps the most revered flowers in western art are those in 16th and 7th century Dutch and Flemish still-life paintings. However, Modern Art is also replete with floral imagery - from Georgia O’Keeffe’s feminist flowers to Andy Warhol’s Pop Art posies and Egon Schiele’s decaying sunflowers. This year has been no exception as our artists’ fascination with flowers continues... Here’s our pick of this year’s best bloom in art:
This year Copyright accelerated his ever-blossoming art career with a blooming lovely exhibition at our sister gallery, Lawrence Alkin Gallery. ‘One Red Rose Forever’ centred on Copyright’s longstanding Street Art motif, the rose.
“I started with the rose image about 11 years ago”, explained Copyright. Back then the roses were mostly monochrome and speedily sprayed on the streets, this year they were beautifully hand-painted on canvas in tonal pinks and greens.
Prize: Best Urban Art Floral
This year Scottish painter Bruce McLean has had a storming success with his dynamic floral creations. His perfectly balanced compositions with their abstract quality offered us a garden of tranquillity and serenity. ‘Tall Dutch Tulips’ and ‘Tulbaghia’, an herbaceous perennial bulb native to Africa, have been a real highlight at this year’s show.
Prize: 1st Place in Bold British Bloom
Find faces in the flowers and flowers in the faces... Carne Griffiths is well known for his delicate and intricate images which explore both human and floral forms, figuratively and in an abstract sense. He is fascinated by the flow of line and the “invisible lines” that connect us to the natural world. His collection of portraits beautifully captures the form and fragility of flora.
Prize: Posy Portraiture Award
Who says gardens can’t be cinematic? Collage artist Maria Rivans creates wonderfully surreal landscapes inspired by iconic sci-fi films and appropriated retro ephemera. ‘Natural Highs I’ is a marvellous surreal vision created from scavenged vintage printed material. Behold the giant white rose, enigmatic beech trees and peculiar sea anemones all flourishing in purple-hued harmony.
‘Natural Highs II’ is an equally spectacular cultivation complete with giant mushrooms, cacti and orchids. The exotic plants, recreated in Hitchcock’s Technicolor, are clearly a joy to behold for all of the check-shirt-clad family.
Price: Botanic Surrealist of the Year
Never mind watering the flowers, “I like to concentrate so hard my eyes are watering”, says artist and illustrator Magda Archer. Her Surreal-Pop creations are this year’s most kitsch and eccentric blooms. In ‘Please Go Away’ inviting, bright pink, glittering blossoms are juxtaposed with Archer’s antagonistic expression “please go away”.
Prize: 1st Place in Kitsch Bouquet
Committed naturalists and ocean enthusiasts Kozyndan claim, “Nature is always more amazing than anything we can produce.” This husband and wife artistic duo is deeply inspired by the natural world. Flowers feature heavily in both ‘Hunters: Charks an Kittehs’ and ‘Vegans: Manatees n’ Bunnies’.
In ‘Vegans: Manatees n’ Bunnies’ gentle manatees float through a sea of blue hydrangeas with fluffy bunnies balanced on their backs. In ‘Hunters: Charks an Kittehs’ vibrant pink carnations offer a perfect backdrop for a swarm of voracious killers. Both prints explore our relationship with the natural world and draw attention to species extinction.
Prize: 1st Place in Environmental Preservation
“I work with flowers the whole time but usually the ones I work with aren’t alive,” said Marc Quinn. This pigment printing contemporary artist has turned to the natural world to explore his interests in genetic modification, hybridism and modern technology.
Marc Quinn uses scientific knowledge to transform the flower into a meditation on how the conflict between the ‘natural’ and ‘cultural’ has taken a grip on the contemporary psyche. He truly is the space-age gardener of the art world.
Prize: Best Hybrid Horticulturalist