Photography

Abelardo Morell's "Flowers for Lisa"

Mar 09, 2017 - Apr 29, 2017Edwynn Houk Gallery, New York

In 2014 Abelardo Morell made a photograph of flowers for his wife's birthday. What started as an ordinary bouquet, set up in a vase in the artist's studio, became the impetus for an investigation into the depiction of floral arrangements throughout the history of art. Morell shot the same bouquet many times, rearranging it over and over in the same vase, and photographing it repeatedly.

After making over 20 photographs of the various arrangements, Morell digitally compiled the multiple exposures, letting the computer software try to make sense of the chaos of imagery to form one image. The resulting photograph, "Flowers for Lisa, 2014" is a demonstration of the passage of time that challenges the very definition of a still life (a picture consisting predominantly of inanimate objects). This single picture captures the transformation of freshly cut flowers into bending, wilting stems. Eventually losing their petals, they form puddles of color that twist into the wood veneer of the artist's work table, dissolving and disappearing before our eyes.

"I had no idea a series would follow. However, something in the making of that first photograph gave me a newly found spark to experiment in ways I had not done before."

Morell continued to photograph flowers, in part because they are both common and familiar, but also because they have been among the most conventional subject matter in the history of art. It became his challenge to represent flowers in unique and inventive ways. Morell utilized all of the "opportunities that are possible in making art" by experimenting with techniques of painters, sculptors, print-makers and photographers to create a new narrative. Inspired by Jan Brueghel, Giorgio Morandi, Édouard Manet, Georgia O'Keefe, Irving Penn and Joan Mitchell, the artist has created an entire series of unexpected still lifes.

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