05.11.2020 - 28.02.2021Curators: Anna Król, Sylvia Peter Exhibition design: Anna Król Exhibition prepared in cooperation: Nuremberg House in Krakow
Botanical Art in the 21st CenturyFor years the Manggha Museum has been showing exhibitions focusing on the relations between nature and culture, between various traditions, Japanese and Western, examining their surprising, inspiring interactions. Our suiseki, bonsai, and ikebana shows, as well as international, nature-themed exhibitions, such as Co-garden and, on a grander scale, Kachō-ga: Pictures of Flowers and Birds in Japanese and Western Art, are part of this reflection.
Exploring Botany. Botanical Art in the 21st Century is Poland’s first exhibition showcasing the phenomenon of today’s botanical art, both European and Japanese. We are showing works by modern-day artists in the context of the oeuvres of old masters of botanical illustration, Basilius Besler, Crispijn van de Passe the Younger, Jacob Hoefnagel, Emanuel Sweert, Elizabeth Blackwell, and above all Maria Sibylla Merian. These are complemented by Hiroshige’s and Watanabe Seitei’s ‘pictures of flowers and birds’, which engage in surprising visual and narrative dialogue with the European works.
The computer Garden from Bożka Rydlewska’s New Botany series, a knowing reference to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and Karolina Kowalska’s Creatures conjure up a world that is surprisingly akin to the imagery of Maria Sibylla Merian’s work. The series Senses: Water and Leaves, Water and Lilies created by Iwona Ornatowska-Semkowicz in the spring of 2020 is the artist’s response to the pandemic, specifically to the related confinement – an outcry to summon the saving power of nature.
At this point I would like to thank the person who came up with the idea of this inspiring exhibition – Sylvia Peter, a curator, essayist, and artist creating suggestive images of nature.
Exploring Botany. Botanical Art in the 21st Century is being held at a special time, when the world of plants and insects that the artists, both contemporary and historical, have immortalized in their works is facing extinction. Perhaps viewing these extraordinary and beautiful works at the Manggha Museum will incline us towards reflection and also offer us a different way to get through this trying time of pandemic.