In her New York studio apartment, high above the city's bustling streets, Paulette Tavormina works around the clock to produce photographs that look like paintings. Surrounded by overripe figs and newly bloomed morning glories, she is in a garden of her own making. Following successful exhibitions in London, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, New York, and Chicago, Tavormina returns to Boston next month, where she was first shown by Robert Klein Gallery in 2009.
'Black & Bloom' will showcase the artist's past and present. 'Natura Morta', an ongoing series Tavormina began in 2008, draws inspiration from seventeenth century Old Master still lifes. Tavormina's deft assemblages of flora, fauna and filigree - she previously worked as a prop and food stylist in Hollywood - are modern explorations of timeless themes. Selections from Natura Morta, including several recent photographs that have never been shown in Boston, will be on display at Robert Klein Gallery.
'Botanicals', Tavormina's newest series, takes a traditional genre and flips it on its head. Popular in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, botanical illustrations aided in the differentiation of species before a codified set of terms had been established. At first glance, Tavormina's images appear to be deconstructed still lifes. Her ideal floral specimens favor whimsy - a wandering caterpillar, a lone petal - over perfection. Where she once directed the viewer's eye, she is now dispersing with a central focus and playfully pulling our attention to the edges of the image.
"These are all my favorite flowers, in all stages of life," says Paulette Tavormina. "They represent my childhood, my memories." In her quiet, beautiful way, Tavormina reminds us that winter's root vegetables and summer's roses can flourish side-by-side, that the seasons have given way to age and time. Botanicals will be exhibited publicly for the first time at Ars Libri.
A regular visitor to New York City's flower and farmers markets, Paulette Tavormina looks for "perfectly imperfect" plants to set the scene. But she does not limit herself to items on sale; she has found butterflies on the sidewalk and picked lilies of the valley through wrought iron fences. Florence Fabricant of THE NEW YORK TIMES called Tavormina's still lifes "arresting." Vince Aletti of THE NEW YORKER writes, "[f]ruits, vegetables, and flowers spill from their containers in an almost obscene display of abundance. Everything seems poised between voluptuousness and rot, at once gorgeous and doomed."
Paulette Tavormina's work has been featured by The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The New Yorker, Bon Appétit, Saveur magazine, L'Express, Martha Stewart Living, Interiors magazine, Art e Dossier, and Vogue Italy. Her work is in museum, corporate, and private collections, and is currently exhibited at the Alimentarium Museum in Vevey, Switzerland.
Black & Bloom by Paulette Tavormina. bis 29ten März. 38 Newbury Street Fourth Floor Boston, MA 02116 robertkleingallery.com
Botanicals by Paulette Tavormina at Ars Libri . 500 Harrison Ave, Boston, MA, 02118