Amongst the most popular of garden flora, the bloom of the peony is lush and romantic. Long-lived plants that produce white, pink, red, yellow and coral flowers, their blooms may be single or double, depending on the cultivar. From the imperial gardens of China to the temples of Japan and later grown in European botanical gardens for their medicinal value, they are known to thrive for 100 years, symbolising prosperity and bashfulness.
Somewhat stylised and romanticised by the artist's vision, the peony is presented as larger than life. From the initial bud state, the growth commences with the viewer's presence. It will at times grow to full bloom and at other times, to a halfway state. In response to the piece's ambient environment, butterflies will circle and sometimes land. Other animated depictions include the gentle falling of petals and some slightly surreal flower movements.
"Jan Van Huysum (active in the 17th and 18th centuries) was one of the greatest painters of still life, and specialised in the skilled representation of flowers. In the National Gallery’s Flowers in a Terracotta Vase (1736) the eye roves across a static landscape of flowers, the painter imbues life and vivacity in the work with the addition of butterflies, flies and the bowing, curling, explosion of stems that support the flower heads, almost all of which are in full bloom – timed to open like a synchronised firework. Here and there, a droplet falls. The grapes and peaches feel ripe and good enough to eat. As we further inspect the piece, things begin to take on a surreal twist, the perspective feels strange, like the vase is sliding into the background, the small nest of eggs feels glued on and all the insects are suspended in animation, or posed as if nothing will take flight.
Harris’ Bloomed Wall (2017) pays homage to this genre of still life painting. In these works, the artist fully embraces the surreal, anachronistic nature of the arrangement of many different varieties of flower in coordinated bloom. Unlike in nature the flowers are made to last, rather than a real-life simulation they are caricatures, an abstraction of the real thing. The flowers sway and react to the viewer’s movements as if attached to springs, jostling for position, docking themselves like spaceships into their position on the grid, petals open and close but never fall from the stem. In some ways, it is the logical conclusion of a still life genre which aimed to capture the ecstatic moment of the hyper-real bloom than any perceived objective reality."
Extract from essay by Sunny Cheung
Edition of 8 + 2 Artist Proofs + 2 Museum Proofs
Code, software, display screen, electronics, sensor, aluminium, acrylic
Dimensions in MM:
446 (W) x 518 (H) x 72 (D) mm
Dimensions in INCHES:
17.5 (W) x 20.3 (H) x 2.8 (D) inches