With a background in care through nursing, prior to art, it’s not surprising that when emerging as an artist Bass turned towards the language of flowers to express herself. No stranger to the facets of beauty and its ability to heal, her vibrant and complex floral portraits paid homage to Dutch still life floral paintings entrenched with flora and symbology.
Bass has found success establishing herself amongst local and international art audiences with her decorative and seductive photography. Presenting at the Royal Academy Summer Show, London in 2016. So, if you are familiar Bass’s photography, prepare yourself: this new series of work sees her flexing and gilding her floral arrangements with depth and finesse.
Bass’s latest series forces us to re-examine how we perceive beauty, what is prompted by heritage versus the true essence of a thing.
“I chose to work with monochromatic reproductions of paintings rather than colour as it forces a focus change from subject to architectural construct, which I can then add to – similar to the role the vase played in my previous work. For me the vessel is my stage to which I bring theatre.” – Emma Bass
Gone is the central itemised vase sitting stable atop its ledge. In fact, at first glance, her latest series seems a complete dismissal of her usual presentation style, but upon closer inspection the same elements the artist has always worked with emerge. She’s reusing the ingredients, stripped back and boiled down, mixing them together with her hands, feeling them in a completely different way.
Exploring both her subject and her medium, reframing her reality and offering new pleasures through her work.
“I’m entering the second phase of motherhood and life, this is a moment of change for me. I want to honour my inspiration. Using my previous works as opposed to the Dutch reproductions felt counterintuitive to me. I wanted a completely fresh approach.” – Emma Bass
A blend of abstraction and expression, as told by a realist. In this latest series Bass focuses on the essence of what it is that invigorates the surface of a space, rather than inside a space.
“I have always resonated with Matisse’s simplified forms and cut-outs, both in the way they were constructed – whilst the artist was incapacitated, to the balance and harmony of the works installed. Knowing they were created from his sick-bed reiterates for me the power of the creative… adding them to the Dutch still life allows me to illustrate that synergy whilst also paying homage to the artist.” – Emma Bass
Her beloved Dutch paintings now provide the visual backdrop, becoming the canvas upon which she lays her pollen. Curved shapes exaggerated by gilded gold leaf dance resplendent against the matt surface of the nostalgic fuzz the overtly-reproduced plates imbue, some echo shapes from the paintings themselves but mostly Bass has appropriated shapes directly from Matisse’s cut-outs in homage to his artistic endurance. Ladybirds, caterpillars, bees and butterflies also layer the surface, connecting and interacting with both the base art and painted shapes as they would in the garden, bringing the work to life, with a buzz.
Written by Aimée Ralfini
May 8th 2019