About the exhibition “Belated Flowers”

(Gali-Dana Singer, Nekoda Singer)

 

What can be more unique, deciduous and irreplaceable than a flower? However, those flowers, which already faded and died, years by years, centuries by centuries come back to us in their new incarnation –not different and different at the same time. A flower keeps in its intimate self a genetic memory of nature, but not only nature indeed. Through many centuries, the humans interrupt into the work of a laboratory of nature changing the form and the colour of flowers, developing and upgrading the types, including their own sense of beauty and art into the creation of God. Therefore, today every cultural flower is nothing but a piece of art tracing the peculiarities of some human interference.

However when a flower becomes a subject of creative reinterpretation, when it is depicted in one of those creative technics – by oil on the canvas, by emulsion on the photograph paper, in pixels at the desktop of a computer, in clay, stone or metal – it passes an additional creative initiation and frequently gets a special symbolic meaning. The symbolism of that kind can fade away and vanquish through time or turn into something absolutely hermetic, like various “languages of flowers”, which used to exist in many different cultures. It can also effect in the new reading of the subject after its significant transformation in contemporary arts dealing specifically with the previous cultural strata.

“Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”, Gertrude Stein declared in her famous poem thus defining a flower as some kind of perfectness in itself, perfect inexplicable self. “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, said Shakespeare flatly. This leads us to a certain dead end, as if we have no more to say and only stay open-mouthed before the ultimate mystery of that secret garden which we could peep at best only becoming insane. However, if we cannot interpret an object of nature by the language of human art we can possibly interpret a human subject through what he/she is doing with the symbols and images taken from nature. This exhibition is not inclined to set a problem of interpreting a flower itself or its Platonic idea in fine arts (although this theme might be very curious to explore) or to demonstrate special artistic attitude to natural flora; it’s goal is rather to explore transfiguration of the aspects of time and memory, both personal and collective in terms of culture, using the floristic images for this creative work. Therefore, we have at the foreground here some correlation of time and space, conflict of “here and now”, significant for the artistic life of Israel, with “other experience” and “objective” historical memory. This exhibition aspires to find a touch point between the reality of everyday life and memory, between passing and everlasting, between documented and fictional, mythological.

Whether we acknowledge it or not, human life in a modern city is full of contact with the floristic world, with flowers in particular. We can assume that any citizen of Jerusalem once in his/her life bought a bouquet, a pot with flowers, or at least a single flower in a florist’s shop or from some pitcher and carried it through the streets of this holy city. Moreover, if we give full reign to our imagination and dispense these moments with some additional power we can see in our urban life a consequence of interactions between humans and flowers and interpret via this sudden approach the whole human history, the Biblical scenes and concealed sides of our civilization. This fascinating interaction between humans and flowers inspires today’s artists and forms exposition. (It is worth mentioning here that each of them interpret this theme in his/her own word creativity, including Gali-Dana’s collection of poems “In Memoriam”  or Nekoda’s novel “The Mandrakes”). The works of both artists are also united by their attitude to the creative method.

Now we come close to the question why the artists somehow risked to call their flowers “belated”. The elements of negative (optically, not morally) developed by Nekoda through his Jerusalem life connect his works to the word of traditional film photography, which, along with his love to straight and concealed quotations from the classical art and his affection towards the fading elements of the Jerusalem quarters, shows him as hopeless nostalgia adept. Gali-Dana, in her turn, frequently gives up colours and seems to look back to the world of old black and white photography, with its focus on graphic elements of line and volume. When a colour finally comes to the limelight of her art we observe absolute domination of cross-colour relations, typical for the traditional fine arts before invention of the colour photography.

Our time is characterized by the search of past in all its meanings and manifestations. After the post-modern swing every moment of present is regarded as some everlasting past, as an endless return to something happening in the past and as something conceivably not existing in the real time. The search for roots in everything modern is just one of the examples of an endless variety of phenomena developed after the imaginary “end of history”, “death of God” and “dusk of art”. The same as a modern Israeli searches for his dried roots in Europe, Asia or Africa, modern Israeli artist knows nothing more natural than seeking for flourishing themes in the eternal or everlasting. So, the flower which blooms belatedly after several centuries, the bouquet not presented in time, the flowers depicted today as a reflection of the flowers created by old masters, or those flowers which we observe in their absence thanks to our imagination, the so-called flowers of nostalgic recollection – all these themes and these flowers are most immanent to our time. Post-modernism that started to fade and rot from the very moment of its birth on its deathbed at least left us with an idea of everlasting blossom: if nothing is really new indeed nothing is, consequently, too late. Like Goethe’s Mephisto once said: “A theory, my friend, is dry, but it’s still green, this tree of life”.

 

N. MUSHKIN-NARYSHKIN

Translation: Andrey MASHINYAN

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