The traditional still life image of flowers in a vase reverberates throughout Western art history, from the Impressionists to the present. This image recalls the paintings of Edouard Manet, who turned often to flowers as subject matter. Manet dedicated himself specifically to painting flowers in the mid-1860s, when he created a series of still-life paintings depicting the peonies that had been cut from his garden at Gennevillers, and again returned to the subject matter exclusively in the last six months of his life. Flower-centric still life images function in Kentridge’s oeuvre like breathing space – a relatively benign image that becomes the platform for experimentation with medium, substrate, connotative content, or simply a moment in which to rest.
Text – Jacqueline Flint, 2020