The Hagedorn Foundation Gallery in Buckhead has opened the summer season with a floral theme, gaining praise for its exhibition “Botanicals Mirabilis.”
The exhibition, which opened May 17 and closes Tuesday, showcases an array of classic floral images from photographers Margriet Smulders and Bryan Whitney. The photographers’ works are divided into two separate galleries within the Hagedorn, with Whitney’s works encompassing the first-floor gallery and Smulders’ the second.
Despite the common theme between the galleries, the unique styles of Smulders and Whitney present two distinct takes on floral photography. Smulders uses simple props such as flowers, water and mirrors to create intricate scenes, while Whitney’s works reflect a more simplistic approach, using techniques such as x-ray and stereoscopic imaging.
“Smulders’ images look like paintings from the 16th century, in their complex use of color combinations and deeply contrasted backgrounds and layering, while Whitney’s pale, soft and ultimately simple images remind one of classical botanical prints in their elegance and austerity,” said gallery Director Brenda Massie.
Smulders is a highly acclaimed photographer in Europe and has been recently recognized by Val Williams, professor of the history and culture of photography and director of the Photography and Archive Research Center at the London College of Communication. Smulders’ signature floral scenes will be included in Williams soon to be released text “What Makes Photography Great: 80 Masterpieces Explained.”
For Smulders, flowers have always been a point of interest and a source of inspiration for her artwork.
“It was always flowers for me. From when I was a schoolgirl, even to when I was at the Academy of Arts, flowers were always painted on my canvasses,” said Smulders.
Smulders attended the Academy of Art in Arnhem in the Netherlands, where she gained inspiration from Kienholz, Sherman and the Dutch painters of the 17th century as well as from modern artists such as Pollock and Kiefer. The real inspiration for her works at the Hagedorn though came from her diagnosis with endocarditis, an inflammation of the inner layer of the heart, in 2004.
“I had experienced a certain level of personal loss during my illness, which you can see in the atmosphere of the works, but I was determined to see the positives in my life. I tried to capture this feeling, always using light to brighten the sometimes dark backdrops,” said Smulders.
Like Smulder, Whitney also developed a strong interest in art early in life. He began his study of art here in the U.S. at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, receiving a bachelor’s degree in psychology of art, before moving on to Temple University’s Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia where he received his master’s degree in fine arts. For the past 12 years, Whitney has focused mainly on x-ray photography, working out of his New York-based studio.
“I’m very interested in different ways of imaging the world, especially in ways that reveal things that you can’t see with just the eye. X-rays do just this by bringing out something about a subject that is invisible to the human eye,” said Whitney.
The gallery has been excited over the positive response the exhibit has received.
“Everyone loves the show and loves the balance of floral portraits, the light and airy versus the complex and rich,” said Massie.
The exhibition can be viewed free of charge, and will be open during regular gallery hours.
Information: visit www.hfgallery.org.