Paper, so potent and so flexible a medium, and one fraught with vast and varied association, has long proved ideal for Bleifer’s aesthetic (and, by extension, ethic). Not surprisingly, then, she has repeatedly turned to the arts of Pacific Asia, with their own dependency on paper, for formal and thematic inspiration. The latest of her trips to the Far East, for instance, led to the recent “Ikebana” series, an unabashed homage to the Japanese art of floral arrangement. [continued]
Ikebana Series: Memorials to Endangered Beauty/Nature Cherished and Betrayed
Acrylic and handmade paper sculptural depictions of flower arrangements of the Ohara School, 2012-2016
The series is comprised of 25 diptychs, based on floral arrangements I made during my study of Ikebana. The left-hand side of each diptych represents flowers at the peak of their beauty while the right-hand side depicts the destruction of that arrangement by different disasters that not only impact the flowers, but by extension, the world. The Japanese approach to flower arranging is to present flowers at the peak of life within a normal life cycle. We now know that a renewable life cycle is in jeopardy with climate change and pervasive contamination of the environment. Will these works become the nostalgic remnants of the earth’s gifts lost forever due to our poor stewardship? Or will they motivate us to preserve the beauty of life that is now so endangered?
The series has yielded some of Bleifer’s most directly pictorial work, some of her most colorful, and some of her most painterly. For once, she centrally engages the traditional figure-ground formal relationship that is a fundament of Western painting and, to the same extent but in a different way, Eastern. She has expansively broadened the range of her visual texture. Clearly, Bleifer has allowed herself to indulge here with an almost Matissean regard in the luxe, calme et volupté of the “oriental” manner.
But the Ikebana works are not without visual austerity. Their images are lush, but their contrasts and contours are stark. The works are structured with a sometimes-startling theatricality – a theatricality whose harsh lucidity recalls that of Kabuki and Noh. The textures, optical and physical, may be sensuous, but they readily combine the coarse with the gentle. There is a constant oscillation between the new and the worn: Bleifer cites sabe no wabe, the high regard held by the Japanese for the qualities of age, as a philosophical influence. In the Ikebana series she highlights those qualities through contrast with the young and fresh, so that the portrayal of a single plant, at once luxurious and agitated, evokes both its beginnings and its end.
Art Critic, Curator, Poet
LIMITED EDITION IKEBANA PORTFOLIO
Ikebana Series cloth bound book, clamshell box + original artwork
A cloth bound clamshell box containing a hardcover cloth bound version of my 86 page book: Ikebana Series plus your choice of paired limited edition art collages from Ikebana Details created specially to accompany this set.
$500. + tax and shipping
Contact me directly via the email link below to select your art piece and order your set.
Choose one collage (left or right) with your purchase of an Ikebana Limited Edition Portfolio
Ikebana Details: Synthesizing the Ikebana diptychs
Enhanced juxtapositions of contrasting pairs from the Ikebana Series, 2017
The Ikebana Details were created as original art pieces to accompany the limited edition printing of my 86 page book: Ikebana Series in a clothbound boxed book set. Detail photographs of each of the individual Ikebana Series pieces were printed on archival Canson Rag Photographique 310# paper, then paired as they are in the book (as A&B) and cropped using a circular template. Each pair was combined in patterns that allowed for representative samples of comparable amounts of each half of the set. Scraps of papers used in the set of the original Ikebana Series were then collaged around the central circle as it was imbedded in cast abaca pulp.
Just as a work of art represents a selected slice of its source image/material, details offer a focused view of a larger work of art. The practice of recycling scraps from my paper constructions reflects my larger concerns about sustainability and the value of all things in our lives regardless of their stage of evolution or refinement.
IKEBANA SERIES FLIPBOOK
Ikebana Series: full color, 86 page, softcover book, 12″ x 12″
Signed by Sandy Bleifer
$60. + tax and shipping
To purchase, contact me directly via the email link, below: