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Cirrus Gallery is pleased to announce The Love of the Marvelous and the Disbelief of the True, an intergenerational exhibition of modern and contemporary artists working in Los Angeles.

Where would we be without a flower? They appear as beautiful, singular, and ephemeral. Their construction is a microcosm of the physical world. They suggest birth, sexuality, death, and the gradations between. They are prominent in Dutch Renaissance painting, Impressionism, 19th century illustration, Pop art, and contemporary art. Flowers predominant in the still life genre. Flowers arrest us by way of a luscious fantasy, at the same time we refuse to give attention to philosophical truths, such as the imminence of death, the truth of scientific laws, or the truth of our political realities.

The notion of smuggling in meaning to otherwise placid scenes, is rooted in the birth of the Avant Garde in 19th century France. This historical shift positioned artists and writers as members of an intelligentsia that had an antagonistic relationship with mass culture. Artists imagined the artwork as a political instrument, acting as insurrectionists of state power, rather than the painter placing themselves at the center of state power and historical development. History became an external force that “happened to” artists, rather than artists standing at the center of history. Baudelaire wrote of the modern metropolis as removed from the abundance of nature, instead he describes an arid nature—that of the sewer rat and overgrowths of weeds.

In the American cultural revolution of the 1960s, flowers were used as symbols of feminist, environmental, and peace movements. Now, flowers seem to be making a comeback. “Flowers are a quintessential symbol of tranquility, love, care, support, growth,” says Francisco Correa Cordero in reference to Basel Miami. “Plus, regardless of the current political or economic climate, they’re a safe and easy sell considering it’s been a difficult year for a lot of galleries.” Remember Karma’s first show after the lockdown, (Nothing but) Flowers? There might still be “a feminist preoccupation with the Earth and its splendors”, But there is also a different market for art then there was in the 1960s.

Cirrus offers a survey of artists in Los Angeles, working with flowers as subject matter. In a moment where art fairs have become precarious spectacles, as artworks become flattened as imagistic tokens within an economy of attention, and as artists push the boundaries of mark-making to dizzying extremes, many works revel in the fact that they are discrete, self-contained experiences. We collectively marvel when aesthetic parameters are pushed, yet we hold everything with an air of suspension and disbelief. Are we exhausted, either financially or aesthetically? At what point do we stop looking to move on to the next, to excavate another image? Do we crave ampleness because of some internal deficiency? Or does the network of beauty in the flower hold us in a cul-de-sac of spectacle?


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