Anat Ebgi is pleased to present Birds of Paradise by Martin Basher. The exhibition will be on view at 2680 S La Cienega Blvd from September 15th–October 27th.
For his third exhibition with the gallery, Martin Basher has created a suite of new still life paintings depicting highly stylised arrangements of Birds of Paradise and minimalist abstract botanicals. The exhibition will also include a number of Basher's signature fade stripe paintings—vertical gradations suggestive of blinds intersecting the atmospheric haze of a sunburst. Together these works represent a continuation of the artist's interests in psychological affect, environmental stress, and the interplay between depicting two and three dimensional space on a flat surface.
Basher approaches the long tradition of still life painting with an eye for formal perfection and experimentation. His precise geometrically rendered structures are equally influenced by Malevich's suprematism or Mattise's Cut-Out, as they are by lavish Dutch still lifes of flowers and exotic objects. A significant point of departure for Basher however, is that set against a combination of matte and glossy blacks, the flowers themselves seem to be a light source, always drawing the eye back to the luminous iconic blooms. The tension between the organic and natural, and the artificial and constructed electrifies these paintings. Other compositions, set before more neutral backgrounds, incorporate elements such as gradient spheres alluding to sunsets, punctuating watery drips, and in one painting, a grayscale dragonfly, the first to appear in Basher's paintings.
Though the official flower of Los Angeles, and an accepted signifier of tropical flora in the mind's eye, the Bird of Paradise is a lily of South African origin. It has come to symbolize tropical exotic destinations and in Basher's paintings call to mind a futuristic eden. As an unscented plant, it is valued purely for its striking visual characteristics; its high contrast plumage of flaming orange and spiked petals suggest the movement of a flock of birds gracefully departing. Their symbolic lushness is striking compared to their stabby and sharp form, a bouquet that is equally exquisite and cruel. Basher's paintings capture and alter reality, placing the viewer in strangely modified environments evocative of a dystopian future.
Martin Basher (b. 1979, Wellington, New Zealand) holds a BA (2003) and MFA (2008) from Columbia University in New York and a DocFA (2018) from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Basher's work has been shown internationally at galleries and public institutions including the University of Connecticut; Art In General; Auckland Art Gallery; and Starkwhite, Auckland; Brand New Gallery; and The Public Art Fund. Basher lives and works in New York City.
Press release courtesy AE2.