Anthophile: Men Who Paint Flowers: Platform Project Space
The flower as an organism of beauty, exoticism, toxicity, and sexuality is an enduring trope for artists. Flowers as symbols of celebration, mourning, death, birth and decay are a constant, recurring motif throughout the history of art. Painters from Bonnard and Fantin-Latour, to Donald Sultan and Robert Kushner have found flowers to be ideal subjects to experiment with via representation, abstraction and shifting iconography.
A decidedly unmacho subject coexisting in a “Me Too” orbit of male soul searching, the works in Anthophile embrace flowers, and run the gamut of styles and techniques available to painters today that adhere to no particular ideology. Long past the point of flowers besmirched as domestic, lesser subjects, some of these artists double down on the handicraft of stitching, needlepoint and grisaille in their imagery, or envision an over-the-top queer, ersatz tableau of kitsch and glitz. Some put the focus on science and evolution or ponder the clash and complementarity between different cultures. A few pursue the childlike and naive, with whimsical crafts of papier-mâché, mosaic and ceramics, propelling their painterly, exploratory approaches toward the tactile and sculptural.
The paintings and sculptures in Anthophile evoke the neon aura and fantastical wonders of Symbolist art, they abound in metaphysical spaces glowing with transcendental and fantastical elements plucked from nature. Like a greenhouse or jungle, the works seen en masse teem with the lobes, stamens, stingers, feathers and fluff of exotic plants and animals. Backgrounding all of the approaches in Anthophile are works by the late, great artists Joe Brainard and Robert Kobayashi. Like muses, hovering over the exhibit, their imaginings and riffs on pansies, tulips, and crocuses set the stage and till the soil. With a similar street-wise irreverency, the artists in Anthophile dally within a Meta Modern terrain that samples from the past, present and future and inspires a flowering of idiosyncratic styles.