About the exhibition
In Full Bloom, a new exhibition of photographs by Ron Agam, marks the first of our series of collaborations with New York based artists whose works have a global perspective. Noted for his portrait photography, Agam achieved critical acclaim in the 1990s for his exhibitions and publications which took as their theme the Ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem. Now, motivated by a deep concern for the environment, he has created a group of monumentally scaled, six-by-six-foot images of solitary flowers set against monochromatic backgrounds. These flower portraits, at once intimate and imposing, point to the grandeur of nature as reflected in some of its most fragile creations. The exhibition makes a poignant statement that is particularly relevant to this time of ecological crisis.
Agam’s work has received great attention during the past year. He was awarded the Legion of Honor in the summer of 2008.
Movie by Etienne Sauret
The work that I am presenting at Tyler Rollins Fine Art is entitled In Full Bloom. This is a series of photographs taken of flowers of my choice during a period of a year and a half. One of my favorite modes of photographic expression has often been the art of the portrait. I have always been really attracted by faces. In one of my earlier series of pictorial essays, the subject was the Ultra-Orthodox world of Meah Shearim, the Ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem. It was an impenetrable world, difficult of access, and therefore mysterious to millions of people. There I found mystery, wisdom, ancestry, and above all a fascinating subject sheltered from modernity and technology.
So when I started the work on flowers, I looked at them like I was looking at faces, with their multiple expressions. And like humans, these faces wear many different masks. Each of these flowers reflected in me a different degree of emotions and feelings. Oh, yes, they were infinitely smaller and delicate; they each had a unique perfume and evoked in me traveling experiences of the past. The more I invested in this work, and the more I got attached to my subjects, it almost became a religion. I developed a passion and an obsession to find them and photograph them. This new passion kept me awake many nights; I needed to be early in the markets to find my inspiration.
The more I was photographing, the more time I was spending with my flowers, the more I realized that I was dealing with godly beauty and fragility, with something virginal and intensely mystical. I started to talk to my flowers, caressing them, and loving them as if they had souls. When working and developing my small prints and looking at them, I related to their magical grace and posture. Each of these flowers stood in space with its own balance and independent physical strength.
It is while working on a print one day that I realized the significance of what I was doing. I looked at this small print and recognized a certain magic. I said to myself: why not give these flowers, these faces, these portraits, a majesty of scale? One that will immediately impose its importance in space, to the viewer. I wanted the viewer to stop silently in front of the grandeur of nature. For this I decided to scale my photographs to an immense size, but one that a human can still relate to. I wanted to scale my flowers to the size of a human.
While working on this project, I realized also that I was starting something much bigger than I had anticipated in the beginning. From a very personal and intimate work, it grew in scope and importance, both in its expression and scale, and most importantly in its meaning. I realized that I was making multiple statements here, and one of them was to convey the grandeur of nature through one of its most delicate elements, flowers, at a time when our earth was seriously in peril by our successive assaults on its resources. In Jewish mysticism, the concept ofTikkun Olam (repairing the world) is one that has always attracted me and fascinated me. Many times in my life I did things thinking that I was doing something spontaneously, and then realized that its deeper meaning and realization were coming from a crystallization of culture and traditions embedded in me from a heritage transferred through generations. So as an artist deeply immersed in my historical and cultural values, this work around flowers is only the continuation of a deeper mystical linkage, one that reveres the power of an incredible force that regulates the existence of our universe.
It is then I realized that in effect, and quite innocently, I was making an artistic and political statement, at once. A call for attention. A universal appeal to take the time to admire what we will slowly destroy if we are not careful. My photographs have become a conduit for silent but active protest to preserve our earth from more destruction.