Saturday, August 25, 2007

Carol Marine: Red Rose

What is the lifespan of a cut flower? A week, possibly two, with the addition of sugar or some other nourishment. During that time, the flower slowly disintegrates -- and this is what this painting shows, in the making, or the unmaking, to be more accurate. And it does so with a harsh rhythm: I have recently watched an action movie, The Bourne Ultimatum, -- this piece could be aptly categorized as an "action painting;" the interchange of black, red and the shadows between, along with piling up of sharp diagonals, produces effects similar to those created by the shaky camera movements in the film. The petals of this rose project innate continuity and instability and, akin to the seventh art form, they evoke suspense, though of a different kind.

But perhaps there is a more appropriate cinematic comparison -- I keep returning to the camera simply because of how alive and active the flower appears on the canvas. This one is from the Discovery Channel: a sequence of a few seconds, showing in fast forward the blooming and subsequent fading of a single flower. The piece in front of us could be a pictorial representation of frame edited out of the sequence. Impressionism is known to strive to portray motion and transition, but here the result subjects the genre to fast forwarding -- "turbo-impressionism." Once again, it is the injection of features from another style that accelerates this painting: the triangular petals and rectangular brushstrokes strongly allude to cubism.

The rosebud is symmetrical to the jar, a peculiarity that may induce a false sense of harmony. Usually, the vase is much bigger than the flower, so the container in front of us turns out to be surprisingly small. The balance is deceptive here and the blossom conceals a threat -- of tipping over and destroying the composition. Still, there are two features that somehow support it: the first is the wall and the second is the general atmosphere of a quiet room with a single light source, calmly but confidently reflected by the jar -- just a few brushstrokes of white. Perhaps, while pointing these features out, I am merely trying to define that extraordinary suspense, in a hope to resolve it. But the paradox is that it is predestined to remain constant, trapped inside the frame, being the most stable attribute of this piece.

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