Bigeleisen‘s Visions of Flowers will Dazzle Your Senses and Spark Your Imagination
Think of artists who paint flowers: do Monet’s water lilies come to mind, or Van Gogh’s sunflowers; perhaps Ono’s cherry blossoms, Renoir’s pink roses, or Klimt’s flower garden? Monet once proclaimed, “I owe having become a painter to flowers.”
Women have been tinkering with nature since Eve appeared in the garden of Eden. Put a woman in a verdant spot under a shining sun and you are guaranteed all sorts of surprises to bloom. Just look at Judith Leyster’s dimly lit vase of posies in her beautiful painting Flowers in a Vase in 1654, Rachel Ruysch’s exquisite bouquets of flowers in the Dutch Golden Age, and Suzanna Valadon’s mix of realism and abstraction in her1921 painting Vase of Flowers.
Why has it taken centuries for female floral artists to get the recognition they deserve? It was not until the early 1900’s that Georgia O’Keeffe, one of the most widely known female painters of flowers, rose to prominence. Whether you are admiring one of her iconic irises or being seduced by her Oriental poppies, you instantly know that the masterpiece belongs to the maverick painter.
Deborah Bigeleisen’s Brand of Floral Painting
Contemporary artist Deborah Bigeleisen’s paintings of flowers stand alone in the fine art arena. She has been referenced alongside O’Keefe most of her career, only because the two artists are associated with painting flowers. What they share are their passion for painting flowers and their pioneering spirit of seeing nature through a unique lens. Their vision and their techniques differ widely. O’Keefe is revered for her very stylized almost voyeuristic loosely suggestive paintings executed in a very ‘washed’ almost watercolor-like technique. Bigeleisen’s elegantly deceptive floral paintings hover on the cusp between realism and abstraction, with some series leaning more to one than the other. Through the application of numerous opaque and translucent layers of paint, the complexity of her technique draws the viewer into her world, one that is filled with energy, chaos, mystery, and beauty. Pictured below, from her Magical Realism series, Rhythm 8, oil on canvas, 127cm x 127cm (50” x 50”) ©2011
Art dealer Robert Miller commented that at first he thought Bigeleisen was channeling O’Keeffe. However, upon further reflection, to paraphrase “he came to realize that Bigeleisen has the absolute formula of perfect thought. She is accomplished in the idiom of the masters – noting that she personifies the perfect package: female – one who gives birth; focused – driven to explore the vast cavities of infinity; philosopher – one who tunes her work to the levels of understanding; and talent – that is technical without excuses.” Pictured below, from her Multiple Perspective series, Untitled No. 34, oil on canvas, 88.99cm x 177.8cm (35” x 70”) ©2015
Bigeleisen has been captivated by natural forms since childhood. Echoing the personal philosophy of Rembrandt who “loved what he painted and only painted what he loved,” she continues to paint flowers. She says that flowers are in her DNA.
With a foundation in the painting techniques of the 17th century Dutch master artists, she applies similar principles to her painting practice. Her focus is on the organization of the space, the contrast of light and shadow to sculpt the forms, and the brushwork to give a voice to her subject’s energy and spirit. Through the application of more than ten translucent glazing layers, the use of subtle tonal transitions, and the constant play of warm hues against cool hues, the shadows have astonishing richness and depth, and the highlights are vibrant and luminous. Bigeleisen uses color as emotion. Because color is so subjective, she uses a carefully selected limited palette, often juxtaposing colors as they naturally appear, to deliberately challenge the viewer’s perception and imagination. Pictured below, from her Magical Realism series, Energy 5, oil on canvas, 91.44cm x 142.24cm (36” x 56”) ©2015
A Foundation in Fractals
Bigeleisen’s work demonstrates a deep interest in searching out the connective tissue between human and environmental anatomies; a search that sparks an enquiry as to how people establish a deeply intimate relationship with nature. She credits her introduction to the mathematic principles of fractals for transforming her artistic vision and changing the direction and force of her work. Still using a single image of a flower as her inspiration, she captures the fleeting effect of natural phenomena and immortalizes the transitory nature of life. Peeling away the layers and magnifying the image to its core, to the point of pure abstraction, she exposes the depth of her subject’s anatomy, its dynamism, its turbulence, and its unpredictability. Her subject is no longer simply a flower; it is a dynamic system existing in a chaotic universe filled with energy, turbulence, mystery, and beauty.
Bigeleisen’s goal with the larger-than-life explorations into the depths and soul of a flower is not only to seduce the viewer into the multitude of its complexities but also to shift the dialogue inward by asking the viewer to put down their devices, to take the time to look at the world around them for longer than a nano-second, and to see and question more than meets the eye. Pictured below, from her Kaleidoscope series, Renaissance, acrylic on canvas, 142.24cm x 106.68cm (56” x 42”) ©2020
A Unique Vision
Bigeleisen’s work is both a fresh perspective of and a deep insight into the familiar. Her work probes the bridge between beauty and science, order and chaos. One art journalist describes her work perfectly: “It brings a unique vision to the genre of floral painting to embody a contemporary world.” Bigeleisen paints introspectively, asking not only the viewers to engage with the bursting blooms, but also examines her own questions regarding the seemingly indestructible bond between human activity and the cycles of nature. Pictured above, from her Dreamscape series, Bridal Veil Falls, acrylic on canvas, 152.4cm x 137.16cm (60” x 54”) ©2021
Deborah Bigeleisen is an award-winning artist whose paintings enhance corporate and private collections worldwide and are represented by galleries across the United States. Her work has been included in numerous museum exhibitions and has been published widely. Bigeleisen paints from her Palm Beach studio sprouting joy and wonders with each brushstroke and new canvas.
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