Thursday, 29 September 2016

Dorothea Tanning: Flower Paintings

This a small, but strong exhibition of some of Dorothea Tanning's last paintings and their developmental drawings. Six of the original twelve flower paintings completed between 1997-98 are displayed here. The flowers are figments of Tanning's imagination -
 "I had a vision of a mauve flower. Then more and more wanted to be painted. 
I coud hardly finish one before I'd start the next one"

These large flower paintings will inevitably invite comparisons to those of Georgia O'Keeffe currently on display across town at Tate Modern, because of the subject matter, and also scale. Tanning's are different both in conception and technique though, and there is some lovely nuanced brushwork, where you can see the underpainting and other colours coming through. Tanning's "foray into imaginary botany" also produces flowers which are a little more abstract, and look more like an alien species than the more earhly, easily recognisable varieties depicted by O'Keeffe. In a year of exhibitions in London heavy with female artists who are inspired by nature, they also invite comparison with the works of Hilma af Klint (here), who started her career as a botanical artist, and also the works of Georgiana Houghton (here), whose early plant-like forms were guided by discarnate entities from the world of spirit. In November Winifred Nicholson in Cumberland at the Crane Kalman gallery will show yet more plant inspired paintings from one of Britain's foremost painters of the landscape and still life genre.

Dorothea Tanning: Flower Paintings
until 1st October
Alison Jacques Gallery
16-18 Berners Street