Ashley L. Voss poetically reflects on memory, time, and the paintings of Ida Floreak.
The importance of a place is rooted within the essence of nature’s remains. Archaeologists uncover layers of history upon discovering objects buried beneath the earth for thousands of years. These treasures, heavily documented, are meticulously illustrated in a scientific manner. Although the impressions remain true to form, some characteristics are embellished while others fade—encouraging the imagination to further explore. Lines differentiate depending on the creator; an artist’s purpose is reflected in style. Seventeenth-century botanical illustrations, intended to assist in identifying medicinal plants, now serve as guidance into understanding the changes occurring in the world over generations. Being mindful of the past is key in maneuvering the future. Recently on view at TEN Gallery, Ida Floreak’s paintings, reminiscent of the Italian grotteschi and medieval herbals, are romantic renderings of such natural finds.
More than parts of a taxidermy collection, each of Floreak’s painted objects provide clues for understanding the thoughtful arrangement within each composition. Two brown feathers mirror a cracked egg in Cradle (Wasp), 2017. Without a body, devoid of flight, the remnants are a mnemonic token of our grounded pasts. A wasp lingers in limbo. The transparency of its shadows are an ethereal reminder of a distant utopia. A fly, often symbolic of death and upcoming change, is centered beneath. Along the vertical axis of the symmetrical composition, a cracked egg conjures notions of fertility. The anticipation of creation is seemingly suspended in time. Set against a white backdrop, this presentation, although surreal, feels present.
Two chicken bones frame a wilted branch in Soft Danger, 2016. Similar to a spindly tree baring its first frost, leaves cringe a final exhale in an act of self-preservation. This crisp tuft of leaves recalls the fragility of our ecosystem. As if placed to tempt curiosity, potentially toxic berries nest within the narrative—a devotional test from Mother Earth. A light green crystal, a stone thought to possess the energies of nature, rests below to welcome spiritual renewal.
When viewing the paintings, the determination to reveal the beauty housed within natural elements remains essential. Floreak’s new works are a metaphysical understanding of the mathematical structures found within nature. These works serve as natural algorithms healing the doubts of today with a promise of tomorrow. Metallic paint frames the outline of a chapel window in Shrine, 2015. A roach, infamous for its survival capabilities, is centered between two shells—highlighting the human condition. As if a mystical third eye, a gem is placed directly above to inspire inward reflection. A dreamy notion, I imagine rolling these delicate paintings into a glass bottle, cast out to sea, with the inscription “I’ll meet you there....”
“Ida Floreak: New Work” was on view February 4 – 24, 2017, at TEN Gallery (4432 Magazine Street) in New Orleans.