(Nothing but) Flowers

Karma
172 & 188 E 2nd Street
Open by appointment
New York
East Village

Owing to their prolific symbolic value across cultures in addition to their often intricate yet universally elegant designs, flowers as subjects of paintings constitute a genre as old as the medium itself.

In this group show, Karma presents a selection of flower-centric paintings created by more than 50 artists—and likewise representing as many conceptual and stylistic approaches—throughout the 20th and 21st centuries. “(Nothing but) Flowers,” as it’s aptly titled, unfolds at the gallery and in an online viewing room.

As in a variegated English garden, the flowers on display embody wildly divergent artistic visions. Some compositions derive from deconstructed floral imagery, with petals and stems reduced to elemental shapes, even to the point of abstraction—as in Marina Adams’s New Morning (2018); in other instances, arrays of flowering plants emerge in precise detail. While some pieces depict flowers as immersed amid other flora and fauna in their natural habitats—as in Lois Dodd’s Echinacea with Butterflies (1998)—a separate assortment of portrayals characterizes flowers in relation to their existence in human contexts: as decorative elements in vases, or within hand-held bouquets, or playfully tucked behind a sitter’s ears—the latter example being demonstrated in Marley Freeman’s Sun burn (2020).

If there is any single, universal attribute shared by these paintings—that is, of course, besides their subject matter—it’s in how each one, in its own way, makes yet another case for why flowers deserve their place as among the most beloved and ubiquitous muses in the history of art.

Matt Connors, Love Theme (Alternate Version) (Third Pieta), 2020. Acrylic on canvas, 24 × 18 inches.