small book ‘flowers in vases’, and in it I try to explain
how come I only paint flowers in vases, and never in nature.
The explanation I gave ( included below) pleased many, and I
surely still hold to it. Only now I feel I wish so add a more
realistic and sort of tangible reason: the vase without flowers
is empty and sad, and the flowers without the vase are scattered
with form. The vase gives the bouquet of flowers a perfect
base out of which they can flow out and up in a beautifully
composed chaos! And different flower arrangements make
such a variety of compositions. To conclude I once wrote those
few lines of verse on the same:
they keep me
company for hours.
You see each has a story.
this one humbly bows,
the other stands high in glory.
Put in front of me a vase,
and I can see it in a hundred ways.
Flowers attract me;
I have drawn so many of them, in vases, using different media including pencil, china ink, watercolors, and oil. But flowers always looked more vibrant with watercolors.
The bouquet in a vase has always been my favorite flower scene, probably because it is what the hand of a person has carried to another. When flowers are put in a vase, their curves relax, and they turn into an obedient lay-figure before the painter’s eyes.One drawing from one bouquet in a vase would rarely be enough for me. Sometimes I would even carry out a series of drawings as if documenting its life stages, from the moment it is placed fresh in the vase, to when its leaves start to wrinkle, and its petals fall apart. A housemaid once remarked that I waited for roses to wilt before I drew them.
I have rarely drawn flowers in a garden and or a natural setting, or even in a balcony pot. However one green plant was an exception. I drew it in its cobalt blue china pot an endless number of times, and some of those are included in this collection. It is perhaps that I am fascinated by the transition of flowers from the field to the residence, from earth to the vase, which could stand in my perception for greater migrations, as if flowers in a vase were a phenomenon addressing the city. It is because of this fact, probably, that I see in the vase more than an arrangement of flowers, or a natural scene. I see in it a group of actors having stood up together to perform a scene on a stage, or to start a marching demonstration. There is a particular charm about the movement of the flower stems from the center of the vase outwards, something of a race startup, or a carnival.
I did not know that painting flowers was a subject of debate amongst artists, until a colleague told me of a discussion that took place among other fellow artists after an exhibition I had held in Cairo; there, it was remarked that my approach to drawing flowers escaped the disdain common to such a subject, one which–disdained or not–will always impassion me.
Many of those flower bouquets I had carried home to my wife, and here I present them to you, painted, so that if they were to find with you the same warm welcome they found with her, I would have made a double gain and more.