At first glance, Marie Orensanz’s Poisonous Flowers series (1977) depicts elegant drawings, at once as beautiful elements of nature and botanical specimens. However, an undercurrent of subversion is present in Orensanz’s work: when her show of photographs was censored by the government, she was told that female artists paint flowers. In response, she began this series of highly toxic plants, with inscriptions in French and Latin.
Born in Argentina in 1936, Orensanz studied painting in Buenos Aires. In 1972, she began working with Carrera marble while in Rome and Milan on a travel grant. Three years later she settled in Paris, where she continues to live and work. Orensanz’s marble drawings walk the line between two and three dimensions, using a language of enigmatic symbols to ask more questions than they answer.
Maria Fernanda Cardoso’s oeuvre explores the geometry and formal order intrinsic in nature. Born in Bogotá, Colombia in 1963, Cardoso lived in San Francisco before moving to Sydney. She incorporates local elements and materials into her work, documenting the intricacies of native animals, plants, and insects, often on a microscopic level. Cardoso’s work bridges the gap between artistic production and scientific inquiry.
Her series A Garden of Insects that Look Like Plants (2006) examines insect behaviors, such as mimicry, as metaphors for human social behavior. Cardoso isolates elements of the natural world on a white ground, inviting the viewer to simply observe. Her sculptural series The Art of Disappearance (2001) explores the ambiguity of humans’ relationship to the natural world.
The interplay between these artists’ work creates a dialogue around symbolism, nature, and the tension between the organic and the geometric. The show will be on view in our second-floor project space through August 3.