My rose text is done. Strange how one can work for weeks on a text which ends up at 567 words. But that’s how it is. For me, anyway.
I have written this text on commission, it’s going into an exhibition catalogue. The text is written to a series of large-scale rose-drawings, pencil drawings in all shades of grey. Grey roses. My text ended up, almost as if it had a will of its own, to become a text about death.
A rising interest in botany and a passion for flowers led to an increase in painted floral still lifes at the end of the 1500s in both the Netherlands and Germany. The Flemish word for this kind of paintings was stilleven, in Norway we use the German stilleben, in English the genre is known as still life. It all seemed rather innocent — until the French, about a century later — decided to call the genre: Nature morte.
And then it became obvious to anyone who cared to see; stillevens are just as much (maybe even more) about transience, about death, as they are about celebration of beauty.
What made my focus on the darker sides of the stilleben especially difficult & challenging, was that the artist, during the time she made these drawings, became severely ill. She is now recovered, but death suddenly became a lot more “realistic” to us both.
Writing about death could, from an aesthetic point of view, be understood as some kind of romantic exercise, but in my case was not. Discovering I would have to write about dying in a situation such as this was, to put it mildly, not easy.
My rose text is written in Norwegian and will be published later this fall. And so I’m free to move on to the rest of the herbarium …