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Ann Craven, Flowers


630 Greenwich Street, 212-431-4977
Greenwich Village
May 1 - June 26, 2010
Reception: Saturday, May 1, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

When we see Craven’s paintings…we are picturing the repetition of language, vision, and painting. As a form reoccurs, it becomes more and more like a word—more like a symbol and a signal. [1]

Maccarone Gallery is pleased to present “Flowers,” an exhibition of new paintings by Ann Craven.

In her first solo exhibition at Maccarone Gallery, the artist undertakes a new subject, still-life arrangements of white roses. Painting with improvisational intensity, the artist uses primarily a palette of black and white, which reanimates the anachronistic genre of still-life flower-painting.

In previous work, Craven has explored icons derived from symbolic images from the natural world such as birds, deer, and the moon. Integral to Craven’s practice is the reliance on existing subject matter: images collected from nature books, magazines and the internet.

Craven began painting flowers from observation several years ago following the death of a loved one. She made paintings of the roses taken home from the funeral as gifts for her family. The subject was approached with a deep intuitive connection to both the historical and popular iconography of the rose. The paintings in this exhibition build on this symbolism, immersing the viewer in a dramatic black-and-white world of fluid scale, where rose petals become spiraling, almost galactic forms; slashes of black paint, depicting rose leaves, become swift-moving vectors; and dashes of white, used to represent baby’s breath, suggest clusters of stars.

The exhibition is organized around three groups of paintings, each installed in a separate part of the gallery. The first room contains a series of nine paintings of bouquets of white roses in clear glass or crystal vases situated on a simple studio stool. For the backgrounds, Craven uses flower motifs redeployed from her previous paintings, making these new paintings, in effect, flowers on flowers.

In the second room are “copies” of the paintings in the first room. The copies are mirror images of the “original” paintings, flipped left to right along their vertical axes. Installed in clockwise rotation they mirror the counter-clockwise rotation of the paintings in the first room.

Craven installs her “stripe paintings” around the street-facing perimeter wall of the gallery. These paintings are made using the paint left over on her palette after completing each painting. Craven considers these stripe paintings to be “born” from the flower paintings and refers to them as a third set of flowers.

Craven’s paintings: the originals, mirrored copies, and stripes raise complex questions. What exactly occurs when Craven makes a mirrored copy, stroke for stroke, of an original, painted alla prima from a three-dimensional motif? The spontaneous, focused gesture is repeated and thus reified as an image of an object becomes a mirror image of an image. The improvisational brushstroke, usually considered a recording of an unique movement in time, is re-performed becoming choreographed. With the stripe paintings, representation and execution are further reified. Left-over paint, applied in parallel brush strokes, becomes another sign for a bouquet of flowers.

With Craven’s acute departure from her previous iconography, she takes on a new language to communicate the deep psychological rigor it takes to re-paint paintings, brush stroke for brushstroke, color by color, line by line. As Craven stated in 2006, “ I often take the memory of the last painting and bring it into the next painting. The new painting becomes the memory of the moment just past.”

[1] Bianca Beck and Josh Brand, On Ann Craven, or Painting Again: Memory, Mirror, Moon, March, 2008.
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