Mary Warner is well known for her floral paintings of breathtaking blooms, filled with liveliness and vibrant arrays of color. Her most recent sunflower series show the latter stage of a life cycle and are no less dramatic or remarkable than her paintings of flowers in their prime. Warner gives viewers a new perspective of her once flourishing blossoms; that there is beauty and purity in the process of dying. This novel shift in her work embraces the wabi-sabi, Japanese aesthetics that center on acceptance and loveliness of impermanence and imperfection. Wabi-sabi believes decay is more evocative than full bloom because the signs of coming and going are alluring and suggest transience. This series elicits a deep emotional response to its viewers, as they contemplate poignancy, fragility, and the continual splendor of life itself.
Sunflowers are adored for their brilliant yellow petals and unmistakable sun-like appearance. As symbols of longevity, these flowers carry strong connections to spirituality in many different cultures. In “Sisters”, faded colors and fine details in the wrinkles of decaying petals mark the stage where age has set in. The wilting, brittle, and crunchy textures highlight the dryness and richness of forms. As the flower’s shapes shift, they become more sculptural and abstract in their asymmetrical appearance. These flowers are not lonely or sad. They are sisters, as the title suggests, united in one of the strongest bonds that exist. They are all maturing together and going out together…and may even come back together next year.
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