Timeless Mesoamerican Desert Landscapes Glow in Anna Ortiz’s Vivid Paintings

a painting of golden barrel cacti in a limited palette of green, blue, and magenta, with an erupting volcano in the background

“El Manojo.” Photos by Max Yawney. All images © Anna Ortiz, courtesy of the artist and Johansson Projects, shared with permission

In the dreamlike landscapes of Anna Ortiz, distant volcanoes erupt and the moon eclipses the sun behind sprawling saguaros, agaves, and prickly pears. Through a highly saturated, nearly monochromatic palette with a limited value range, the Brooklyn-based artist explores how low contrast can “render the time of day ambiguous,” she says. “With any luck, this is an invitation to my viewer to pause and consider what this scene is and when it’s taking place.”

Growing up, Ortiz took many trips to visit family in Guadalajara, Mexico, where she learned painting techniques from her grandfather Alfonso, a professional portrait artist, and her aunt Lolita, a sculptor. Tying her contemporary experience in the U.S. to ancestral and cultural histories in Mexico, Ortiz references the unique, dichotomous cultural experiences of second-generation immigrants. Her work often alludes to ancient Mesoamerican visual culture and mythology while considering its continued influence.

In a body of recent paintings now on view in the group exhibition Enchanted Lands at Johansson Projects, Ortiz profiles flora common in the Mexican desert. She outlines the orbs of golden barrel cacti or spiky fronds of century plants, placing us in a specific climate and tying each vivid composition to a continuum of timeless geological or celestial events. “Weaving together invented spaces with references to actual places,” she adds in a statement, “the paintings take both a familiar tone and a sense of the uncanny.”

Enchanted Lands continues in Oakland through July 20. See more on the artist’s website and Instagram.

a painting of cacti in a desert landscape, made with a limited palette of orange, violet, and pink

“Un Paso”

a painting of cacti in a desert landscape with an eclipse in the sky, made with a limited palette of blue and green

“Reflexión”

a painting of cacti in a desert landscape, made with a limited palette of green and magenta

“Nopal Reclinado”

a painting of cacti in a desert landscape, made with a limited palette of blue and green

“Arco”

a painting of cacti in a desert landscape, made with a limited palette of green and blue

“Dos Agaves”

a painting of cacti in a desert landscape with an eclipse in the sky, made with a limited palette of greens

“Eclipse”

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Monumental Plants Nourish and Flourish in Adele Renault’s Lush Paintings

the side of a building covered in a mural of green leaves

All images © Adele Renault, shared with permission

Nature walks are Adele Renault’s main source of inspiration. Spending her time between Los Angeles and Brussels, the artist (previously) encounters varying landscapes that catalyze her practice. While the rugged urban terrain of southern California bolsters desert plants and palms, the Belgian countryside bears lush vegetation and thickets of trees. Renault likes to connect her subjects with the environments she thrives in, explaining, “the flora become a metaphor for the people, both native and nonnative, who inhabit a city, enrich its cultural assemblage, and share in a collective consciousness.”

Placing a magnifying glass over small details that are often overlooked, Renault depicts transient features such as the intricate texture of leafy specimens, the protruding prickles of flowering cacti, and the way the the sunlight hits dense tufts of grass in the forest. She’s passionate about plants and appreciative of these minutia. “It’s a very nourishing subject. You can live with plants, eat plants, talk to plants, learn from plants and paint plants all your life,” she shares. “And that way, I’m sure you’ll live a happy life.”

Nowadays, Renault spends more time in her studio, leaving the larger walls for the next generation of muralists. The artist has some exciting projects coming up with galleries in Los Angeles and Brussels, so follow her on Instagram and visit her website to keep tabs on those works.

the side of a building covered in a mural of green foliage

the side of a building displaying a cacti mural

the side of a building covered in a mural of green foliage

a triptych of cacti

the side of a building covered in a mural of green leaves

a wall inside of a building displaying a cacti mural

a triptych of cacti

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Megan Bogonovich’s Exuberant Ceramic Sculptures Find Joy in Coexistence

In vibrant colors, bulbous, protruding cylindrical forms with spiky and bumpy textures resemble floral motifs such as flowers, fungi, branches, and stems.

All images © Grace Cooper Dodds, shared with permission

Protruding in a meandering fashion like tree branches or the sprawling overgrowth of flowering vines, the flamboyant botanical sculptures that sprout from Megan Bogonovich’s Norwich studio capture the wondrous moments of when “bucolic tips over into batty.”

Her workspace is tucked in a wooded area, leaving Bogonovich constantly surrounded by lush landscapes. “When I look around my neighborhood this time of year,” she says, “nature seems so verdant and powerful. I think the fragility of the material and the quantity of sculptures have mirrored the natural world in the way that plants are abundant, but vulnerable and highly pluckable.”

Bogonovich’s sculptures (previously) embody the delicate relationship between humans and the environment. Fascinated by nature’s ability to adapt to human presence, she sculpts cylindrical structures that twist and turn in different directions, perhaps implying the irregularity of the landscapes that her superempirical organisms might thrive in. Spiky and bumpy textures cover vibrant surfaces, emphasizing the idiosyncrasies of repetition and pattern that are so prevalent in organic forms.

Though each sculpture exists “in the realm of exuberance and glee,” she adds, “I know people see a sinister undercurrent, and that is definitely true of the work.” In a world so apprehensive toward shifting climates, invasive species, and future existence altogether, the artist’s ceramic iterations offer a feeling of bountiful pleasure.

Bogonovich just finished a residency at the Vermont Studio Center, and you can find more work on her Instagram and website.

In vibrant colors, bulbous, protruding cylindrical forms with spiky and bumpy textures resemble floral motifs such as flowers, fungi, branches, and stems.

In vibrant colors, bulbous, protruding cylindrical forms with spiky and bumpy textures resemble floral motifs such as flowers, fungi, branches, and stems.

In vibrant colors, bulbous, protruding cylindrical forms with spiky and bumpy textures resemble floral motifs such as flowers, fungi, branches, and stems.

In vibrant colors, bulbous, protruding cylindrical forms with spiky and bumpy textures resemble floral motifs such as flowers, fungi, branches, and stems.

In vibrant colors, bulbous, protruding cylindrical forms with spiky and bumpy textures resemble floral motifs such as flowers, fungi, branches, and stems.

In vibrant colors, bulbous, protruding cylindrical forms with spiky and bumpy textures resemble floral motifs such as flowers, fungi, branches, and stems.

In vibrant colors, bulbous, protruding cylindrical forms with spiky and bumpy textures resemble floral motifs such as flowers, fungi, branches, and stems.

In vibrant colors, bulbous, protruding cylindrical forms with spiky and bumpy textures resemble floral motifs such as flowers, fungi, branches, and stems.

In vibrant colors, bulbous, protruding cylindrical forms with spiky and bumpy textures resemble floral motifs such as flowers, fungi, branches, and stems.

In vibrant colors, bulbous, protruding cylindrical forms with spiky and bumpy textures resemble floral motifs such as flowers, fungi, branches, and stems.

In vibrant colors, bulbous, protruding cylindrical forms with spiky and bumpy textures resemble floral motifs such as flowers, fungi, branches, and stems.

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Photos from 41 Countries Juxtapose Blocky Architecture and Verdant Gardens in ‘Brutalist Plants’

a range of foliage in a brutalist glass-roofed building with vines hanging from mezzanines and trees growing up on either side of a walkway

The Barbican Conservatory, London, United Kingdom. Architect: Chamberlin, Powell and Bon. Photo © Taran Wilkhu. All images courtesy of Olivia Broome and Hoxton Mini Press

In the mid-20th century, during reconstruction following World War II, an architectural style emerged in the U.K. and Europe that favored bare, industrial building materials, a monochrome palette, and angular geometry. Both iconic and divisive, the hulking, concrete facades can be seen in the likes of London’s Barbican Centre or the National Theatre. In the U.S., think of Boston City Hall or Met Breuer. These stalwart structures represented modernity, resilience, and strength, serving as civic hubs and governmental centers—the opposite of “soft around the edges.”

That’s where Olivia Broome’s project Brutalist Plants comes in, a repository of photographs featuring gardens and greenery around these iconic buildings, which she has collected on her Instagram since 2018. An eponymous forthcoming book, published by Hoxton Mini Press, showcases some of the most impressive examples that she has collected over time, focusing on incredible pairings and contrasts between architecture and foliage.

“I find it fascinating how much any space can be improved by some plants or greenery,” Broome tells Colossal. “There’s something so pleasing about grey and green, as anyone with some houseplants in their flat can agree with! For me, brutalism gives off such a strong presence when you’re near it, and nature softens that right down.”

Brutalist Plants emerged from a community-led collaboration, as Broome collects and showcases other photographers’ images. She enlisted her father, who is also a fan of photography, to help whittle down the more than 300 images in the project’s Instagram feed to create a selection for the book—ten of which made the final cut. “Something I’m proud of is that images from 41 different countries feature in the book,” she says. “I really wanted to make it as international as possible, so I hope there’s something for everyone.”

Brutalist Plants is out in the U.K. this month, and you can preorder your copy on Hoxton Mini Press’s website. The book’s U.S. release is scheduled for September.

an undulating architectural gridded wall, viewed looking straight up, with pockets of greenery in each square

Reinforced hillside, Aogashima, Tokyo, Japan. Photo © Yasushi Okano

a group of trees with a concrete slab cast onto their trunks to create a shelter

Artwork and photo by Karsten Födinger in La Vallée, Basse-Normandie, France

a side-by-side image showing brutalist architecture and greenery, with the image on the left of a concrete tower in a green estate, and the image on the right showing a tree growing in an atrium

Left: Monument to the Revolution, Kozara National Park, Prijedor, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Architect: Dušan Džamonja. Photo © Alexey Bokov. Right: Casa de Vidro, São Paulo, Brazil. Architect: Lina Bo Bardi. Photo © Celeste Asfour

Jurong Bird Park, Jurong, Singapore. Architect: John Yealland and J. Toovey. Photo © James Wong

the exterior of a brutalist tower with vines creeping up the wall and trees around the base

Evangelische Friedenskirche (Peace Church), Monheim-Baumberg, Germany. Architect: Walter Maria Förderer. Photo © Bildarchiv Monheim GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

a side-by-side image of two examples of brutalist architecture paired with greenery, with the left image being an entrance with a large green vine over it, and the image on the right being a small concrete cabin in the woods

Left: Bucharest, Romania. Photo © Bogdan Anghel. Right: Casa Alférez, Cañada De Alferes, Mexico. Architect: Ludwig Godefroy. Photo © Rory Gardiner

a large, angular, brutalist complex in France with vines growing around many of its corners and from balconies

Les Étoiles d’Ivry, Paris, France. Architect: Jean Renaudie. Photo © pp1 / Shutterstock

lush greenery underneath an open concrete screen held up by pillars

The abandoned Haludovo Palace Hotel, Krk Island, Croatia. Architect: Boris Magaš. Photo © Maciek Leszczelowski

the front cover of the book 'Brutalist Plants' by Olivia Broome

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Verdant Landscapes and Burgeoning Plants Crawl Across Walls in ONIRO’s Vibrant Anatomical Murals

a large-scale mural of a potted plant that grows to reveal the silhouette of a person, who holds the pot

“Coltivazione del Sé” (2021), Cassino, Italy. All images © ONIRO, shared with permission

Greenery abounds in the large-scale murals of Italian artist ONIRO, who often focuses on themes of interconnectedness and balance, especially between humans and the natural world. In “Coltivazione del Sé,” or “self-cultivation,” a human form emerges from the leaves and shadows of a burgeoning plant, while an opening of sky between branches reveals a facial silhouette in an untitled mural on an olive oil processing workshop.

In 2022, ONIRO completed an ambitious series that links three neighboring communities along the Via Aurelia, an ancient Roman artery in Italy constructed around 241 B.C.E. that remains a busy commercial thoroughfare today. “Each mural is a necessary part for the others, like organs that form an organism, and which as a whole has a greater value than the sum of the individual parts,” the artist says.

The three pieces in Organismo, or “body,” are composed in a loose, painterly style to depict Gaia—the ancient Greek goddess who personified the earth—an island shaped like the human heart, and a peninsula shaped like lungs with flowing, bronchial inlets. Explore more on Behance and Instagram.

a mural of olive branches on the side of a building, which open up to reveal blue sky in the shape of a person's profile

Untitled, La Marina oil mill, San Donato Val Comino, Italy (2021)

a mural of a human heart that resembles an island as seen from above

“Organismo – Cuore” (2022), Comune di Castagneto Carducci, Italy

an overview of a city street with mural of a plant

“Coltivazione del Sé”

a detail of a mural showing the stems of a plant growing out of a terracotta pot

Detail of “Coltivazione del Sé”

a large mural of a verdant landscape viewed from above in which the land and water creates the shape of human lungs

“Organismo – Polmoni” (2022), Comune di San Vincenzo, Italy

an aerial overview of a mural in an Italian seafront town

Aerial view of “Organismo – Polmoni.” Photo by Francesco Luongo

a mural of a landscape overview in which the water bodies and land masses form the silhouette of a female figure representing Mother Earth

“Organismo – Gaia” (2022), Comune di Venturina Terme, Italy

a mural on the side of a building showing a river coursing through some mountains

“Casa del Fiume”

Do stories and artists like this matter to you? Become a Colossal Member today and support independent arts publishing for as little as $5 per month. The article Verdant Landscapes and Burgeoning Plants Crawl Across Walls in ONIRO’s Vibrant Anatomical Murals appeared first on Colossal.

In ‘Zoophites,’ Les Lalanne Hybridize Beasts and Botany into Functional Sculptures

an installation view with a cat sculpture that opens up on its back surrounded by additional chair sculptures

‘Les Lalanne: Zoophites,’ Kasmin, New York. All photos by Charlie Rubin, courtesy of Kasmin, shared with permission

Now obsolete, the term zoophytes once referred to organisms that exhibited both animal and plant characteristics. It’s also an apt title for a poetic exhibition of sculptures blending beastly and botanical forms by the late Claude (1925-2019) and François-Xavier Lalanne (1927-2008).

On view at Kasmin in New York, Zoophites brings together dozens of surrealist works from the French artists, known together as Les Lalanne, that bridge the divide between kingdoms. Included are iconic pieces like François-Xavier’s “Grand Chat polymorph,” a ten-foot cat with a tail fin and wings that open up to reveal a fully functional bar cart, and a similarly multi-purpose bull whose bronze belly flips open like a small desk. Having worked as a guard in the Egyptian and Assyrian galleries of the Louvre, the artist often referenced ancient mythology and hybridity in his figures.

While François-Xavier gravitated toward the animal, Claude was drawn to the plant world. Oversized ginkgo leaves line “Les Berces adossées,” an elegant bench with four fan-shaped seats. The pair lived together but tended to work separately, and their rare collaborations maintain both of their natural affinities. “Gorille consolé,” for example, features a seated primate by François-Xavier that grasps branches by Claude.

As its name suggests, that glass-top piece is made to hold objects, and some curators and critics struggled to classify the duo’s works because of such functionality. “It was difficult to be accepted in the art world,” Claude said. “We used to have a lot of trouble because we made useful things and made them ourselves. This is automatically considered as so called ‘decorative arts,’ a lesser, secondary art.”

Zoophites borrows its title from a 1964 show in Paris that was the first the pair presented together and is on view through May 9. For more about Les Lalanne, visit Kasmin.

a cow sculpture that opens up like a desk with two small animal sculptures on pedestals on either side

‘Les Lalanne: Zoophites,’ Kasmin, New York. Photo by Charlie Rubin

a bronze bench made of gingko leaves

Claude Lalanne, “Les Berces adossées” (2015), bronze, 42 1/8 x 96 1/8 x 29 7/8 inches. Image © Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY / ADAGP, Paris, France

a detail of a black goat with large curved horns

François-Xavier Lalanne, detail of “Bouquetin (grand)” (1999/2016), bronze and black patina, 37 x 53 1/8 x 11 7/8 inches. Image © Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY / ADAGP, Paris, France

a tv console of a seated gorilla in bronze holding up twigs with leaves and a glass top

François-Xavier Lalanne, “Gorille consolé” (2002/2016), bronze and glass 33 7/8 x 72 3/5 x 19 5/7 inches. Image © Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY / ADAGP, Paris, France

a black rhino sculpture

‘Les Lalanne: Zoophites,’ Kasmin, New York. Photo by Charlie Rubin

a bronze bird resting on a twig

François-Xavier Lalanne, “Oiseau de Peter branché (grand) (Modèle de montage)” (2004), bronze, 40 1/8 x 54 3/4 x 44 1/8 inches. Image © Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY / ADAGP, Paris, France

a centaur with a helmet over its face, holding a string with a point that touches the ground and a plane with 1-9

Claude & Francois-Xavier Lalanne, “Centaure (moyen)” (1995/2008), gilt bronze, 48 3/8 x 33 7/8 x 13 inches. Image © Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York, NY / ADAGP, Paris, France

a black and white photo of the artists seated in front of the centaur sculpture

Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne in 1985. Phot by Jean-Philippe Lalanne, courtesy of Caroline Hamisky Lalanne and Kasmin

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Used Envelopes Hold Thriving Potted Plants in Fidencio Fifield-Perez’s ‘Dacaments’

a cardboard mailer with a plant in a cafe bustelo container

All images © Fidencio Fifield-Perez, shared with permission

Fidencio Fifield-Perez’s Dacaments series began as a response to the bureaucracy of the U.S. immigration system. The Oaxaca-born artist immigrated with his family as a child, making him eligible for DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). To qualify and retain his status, he needed to collect official documents, the envelopes from which became the substrate for his paintings.

When the Trump administration terminated the policy in 2017, people like Fifield-Perez were thrown into limbo before the Supreme Court reinstated it in 2020. His hyperrealistic renderings of potted plants reflect this precarious position as symbols of domesticity and thriving life rest atop discarded mailers that have fulfilled their purposes. “Painted envelopes are configured into intimate portraits of the only home I have made for myself, moved across the country, and mourned for with the imminent threat of DACA’s repeal,” the artist says, adding:

The plant paintings are physical and metaphorical maps of personal and official correspondence. The rubber plant abandoned outside The University of Iowa’s art studios painted on the mailer envelope of my graduate degree; the split-leaf monstera gifted to my husband and me for our wedding ceremony; the jade plant given to me by the only other dacamented professor I’ve met.

Ongoing since 2016, Dacaments will conclude this year when Fifield-Perez’s DACA status ends.

As part of a McKnight Fellowship, the artist is working toward a show at Highpoint Center for Printmaking in Minneapolis, where he lives. Find more of his paintings and collages on his website and Instagram.

a yellow manila mailer with a plant in a gold and white pot

a white cardboard mailer with a leafy plant in a small black pot

a white cardboard mailer with a monstera in a white pot

a white cardboard mailer with a plant in a terracotta pot

a white envelope with a plant in a white pot

a USPS mailer with a plant in a terracotta pot

a collection of small paintings of plants in pots on used envelopes. all are on a white gallery wall

Photo by Argenis Apolinario, courtesy pf PS122 Gallery, N.Y.

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Flip Through More than 5,000 Pages of This Sprawling 19th-Century Atlas of Natural History

an 18th-century natural history book illustration of numerous long-legged birds

Courtesy of the Biodiversity Heritage Library

In the early 19th century, German naturalist Lorenz Oken quickly established himself as a leader in the Naturphilosophie movement, a current of Idealism, which attempted to comprehend a total view of nature by investigating its theoretical structure—a precursor to the natural sciences as we know them today.

Oken’s seminal work Allgemaine Naturgeschichte Für Alle Stände, or General Natural History For All Classes, was published as a series of seven volumes between 1833 and 1843. At more than 5,000 pages in its entirety, the atlas depicts known species ranging from beetles and fish to birds and ferns. In many cases, insects or plants are shown in various stages of development, like a butterfly displayed alongside its larval and pupal forms.

Containing illustrations engraved and printed by a number of contributors, the vivid portrayal of wildlife and botanicals attempts to classify similar specimens, labeling them with both their common and scientific names and grouping like examples into compartments.

Explore Oken’s entire Allgemaine Naturgeschichte in the Biodiversity Heritage Library’s digital archive, where you can also download tens of thousands individual illustrations. You may also enjoy flipping through an eclectic array of rare Japanese schoolbooks,  admiring Elizabeth Gould’s detailed bird illustrations.

an 18th-century natural history book illustration of eels

an 18th-century natural history book illustration of moths, some shown at their larval and pupae stages

an 18th-century natural history book illustration of numerous beetles, organized by size and color into classifications in a chart

an 18th-century natural history book illustration of winged insects, classified into a grid

an 18th-century natural history book illustration of butterflies, some shown at their larval and pupae stages

an 18th-century natural history book illustration of numerous plants and botanicals categorized on the page into a grid

an 18th-century natural history book illustration of ferns, categorized on the page into a grid showing their seeds and different stages of growth

an 18th-century natural history book illustration of mushrooms

an 18th-century natural history book illustration of bird eggs and nests

an 18th-century natural history book illustration of bird eggs and nests

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Kaleidoscopic Paintings by Edie Fake Invoke the Spiritual Wisdom of Plants

geometric elements in colorful strips and flowers fit into a system of gears and belts in a painting on a black backdrop

“Bustle” (2024), acrylic and gouache on wood panel, 48 x 48 inches. All images courtesy of Western Exhibitions, shared with permission

In Persuasions, artist Edie Fake turns their attention to the wise, enduring insights of plants. The new series of acrylic and gouache paintings expands Fake’s bold visual language to incorporate flowers, which they render amidst the kaleidoscopic geometries they’re known for. Evocative of architecture and mechanics, the colorful graphic works veer into the spiritual, melding the myriad systems that order our lives.

Fake often begins with a meticulous sketch in graphite. Using rulers and protractors, they render impeccably precise shapes that together, comprise a highly engineered network of gears, bottles, and lanterns. This series draws on Tarot and the diagrams of Swiss healer Emma Kunz (1892-1963), who saw her work as answers to larger philosophical, spiritual, and medical problems. Vines crawl up the side of “Theater of the Fool” and the flowering pillars of “The Old Arrangements in a New Light” beam with radiant light, seamlessly binding the botanical and the divine.

Persuasions is on view from April 12 to June 1 at Western Exhibitions in Chicago. Find more from the artist on Instagram.

an abstract painting with colorful stripes and geometric elements. flowers line the left side with spiky protractors on the right

“Theater of the Fool” (2024), acrylic and gouache on wood panel, 48 x 48 inches

an abstract work with colorful stripes and geometric elements

“One Thing To Fit Another” (2024), acrylic and gouache on wood panel, 36 x 36 inches

an abstract colorful painting with a writing snack at the bottom and gears and belts interspersed throughout

“Mr. Snakes and Ladders” (2024), acrylic and gouache on wood panel, 48 x 48 inches

a painting with three pillars, the left and right are flowers and rays, and the center is a lantern with geometric elements. all on a black background

“The Old Arrangements in a New Light” (2024), acrylic and gouache on wood panel, 36 x 36 inches

an abstract geometric painting with floral details in the center and radial elements throughout

“Suasion” (2024), acrylic and gouache on wood panel, 36 x 36 inches

an abstract painting of a colorful striped lantern with a gold ring at the top

“Hurricane Lantern” (2024), acrylic and gouache on wood panel, 16 x 12 inches

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Cynthia James Portrays Otherworldly Pollinators and Plants in Her Dreamlike ‘Bee Series’

White flowers sway in the wind, creating ethereal curves in its petals. A small bird rests on a petal as bees swarm around the flowers' pistils.

“Ambush.” All photos © Cynthia James, shared with permission

In the 1901 book, The Life of the Bee, Nobel prize-winning author Maurice Maeterlick wrote, “If the bee disappeared off the face of the earth, man would only have four years left to live.” Regardless of determining an exact range of years for such a catastrophe, the insect’s extinction has been a great concern for well over a century. We’ve become increasingly aware of the devastating consequences of living without bees, a dreadful outcome scientists are continually reckoning with.

In her extensive Bee Series, artist Cynthia James shines a light on the human and environmental necessity for the winged pollinators, imagining a botanical catalog of plant forms and insects thriving amongst each other in another world. Describing a seminal experience directly related to this inspiration, James reflects on when she and her partner lived in the lowland jungle of Yucatán, a seminal experience that inspired the body of work. The artist explains:

We began to see the environment change rapidly as global warming increased along with the use of pesticides damaging bees and butterflies. We saw butterflies in swarms in the 1990s, but we never expected their disappearance to occur so quickly. Pesticides and genetically modified seeds permeated with antibacterials are new elements shocking the finely balanced interplay between humans and food sources.

Seemingly dancing or moving in rhythmic trance, bees of varying hues percolate in each painting, assembling in elegant spirals and double helices. Swaying in similar fashion are the plants the pollinators swarm, appearing as almost mutated forms of familiar foliage that allude to 18th century grotesquerie.

James’ work will be on show in The Bird and the Bees and More: Pollinators opening at the Wildling Gallery in California next week. For more updates and work, check out the artist’s website and Instagram.

Against tall, burnt orange plants resembling corn stalks, bright blue bees hover in the form of a double helix.

“DNA”

A purple and yellow sea flower mimics the form of a jellyfish.

“Genetic Murmuration”

A tall pink flower rises against green leaves in the background. Bees swarm the left side of the plant.

“Birds vs. Bees”

An orangutan, parrot, anteater, turtle, and sea creatures ride the back of a bright red heron.

“The Ark”

A tall, trumpet-shaped flower in coral hues stands against wispy golden strokes. Bees hover at the top of the flower.

“God Save the Queen”

A white heron stands and opens its beak wide, a mountain of fruits towering from its mouth. It stands atop a fiery rock, and bees swarm it in a spiral motion.

“The Save”

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