Georgia O´Keeffe: Sacralize the beauty of a flower

[ leer en español ]

Until the 8th of August the first retrospective of Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986) can be seen in Spain at the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. Through a selection of approximately 90 works, the visitor can submerge in the pictorial universe of this artist considered one of the most important representatives of XX Century North American art. The exhibition, as indicated by the institution, is a complete travel of O´Keeffe´s artistic career. From her work in the decade of 1910 with which she became pioneer in abstraction, to her famous flowers or her views from New York – thanks to which she was enshrined like one the principal figures of modernity of her country-, to her paintings of New Mexico, fruit of her fascination with the landscape and mixture of cultures in this remote territory.

To magnify the form of a flower in a painting making its beauty sacred, extending its colors, folds and textures up to the point that it is its symmetry what is presented with a ritual character, it reveals an astonished look towards certain beings of creation who she venerates.

Then the painting becomes a tribute and celebrates the beauty of nature.

(Yes; but not only…)

It is obvious that painted flowers result sensual and even erotic, because they are. That is one of their essential attributes, it is not by chance flowers precede the fruit and need their attractiveness to pollinate and achieve fertilization.  

But Georgia O’Keeffe´s artist glaze is more intense than that of instinct and denotes more to the intellectual amazement that precedes a cognitive self-absorption and the search of the masterful. What she projects in her paintings is something more than a simple reproduction. It does not consist on imagen enlarging. The flower – the presence of the delicate flower – is what presides over the painting and to it she dedicates it completely.

To paint as an ability, as a skill and capacity, serves to paint things (horizons, light effects, urban sceneries, etc.).  Emotional landscapes through her love towards her land: America, the desert, mountains, the life of the flowers; death through skulls and bones. Georgia impregnates her painting from what occurs in her interior. She shares her loneliness like an unavoidable necessity to express what stirs us every time we contemplate a new sunset.

Take a minute to observe me; I am not only a flower

And with a flower she talks of how she feels, vulnerable, fragile but containing the same force from creation. Delicate consistency, to the mercy of the winds, the sun, the storms. But here I am. Standing up. It is the flower talent. Take a minute and observe me, I am not only a flower. I have all the keys to evolution and survival.

And like that she was ecstatic capturing a flower’s anatomy and her paintings became temples to enthrone her lofty image.

It was maybe when Georgia glimpsed that painting makes you closer to certain limits and gives you reach – by observation of what paintings show – the act of painting other “facets” and giving them existence to create a “pictorial reality”.

What does a flower do in my painting? What `painting´ can I do with a flower?

Photography: Óscar Rivilla

Music: Electrophorus Music

Translation: Covadonga López-Fanjul

Art Direction: Óscar Rivilla and Carolina Verd


Looks created exclusively for this performance session by Ernesto Naranjo inspired by the work of Georgia