Eduard Kiesmann‘s work was sent to me to write about just as I awoke from my winter sleep in Sweden in Early January 2023. I had buried myself into a long-overdue rest after relentless years which had all merged into each other. The snow piled high to the window sills on the outside covering all plants and flowers, yet on the inside of the house, each surface indoors was adorned in some kind of floral pattern. I felt embedded in the outdoors, indoors. Freesias in vases printed onto curtains, huge headed hydrangeas painted on wallpaper and lilies slept on bedsheets. And then my inbox filled with blurs of images of his upcoming show ‘Vacation Forever’. The flowers seeped in everywhere.
Flowers exist in different botanical speeds. There are the ephemerals, annuals, biennials and perennials. The inevitability of slow / quick / or recurring life and death go hand in hand. Kiesmann’s new works oil and ink paintings seep through fly screen and canvas.
It is not an unusual language to use the image of flowers to talk about mortality. Since the still lives of flowers hung on the interiors of Egyptian tombs, florals have managed to conjure layers of the between. The gesture of freezing a flicker of life through flowers is perhaps their ability to exist deeply in the ground as well as high above it. They manage to exist within, upon and apart from the ground. Perhaps that is why flowers so often exist as symbols of combining both life and death - it seems only natural and intrinsically human to experience flowers as teetering between layers of living and dying. The word human comes from the word Humando (to bury) which stems from the word Humus (earth, soil). The question remains, are the flowers planted or are they buried? Or perhaps the life of a flower is the afterlife of the soil.
It is during holidays that one has the opportunity to contemplate resting, a momentary lapse from the workdays. Although taking a moment or removing yourself from your life for a few weeks offers a glimmer of relaxation, one is always aware of what a process it is to begin to actively give over to taking a break. I find holidays drift into each other, my favorites are when I’m not even sure which day it is. They offer a different approach, a pause in the process. Vacationing or holidaying is a way of reconnecting with hibernating. Bats, bees and snails all enjoy a vacation from their everyday lives, offering them a seasonal occurrence where they choose to bury themselves, only to emerge later after treading as closely to dying as sleep can be.
Sowing flowers and holidaying then no longer feel quite so far removed from each other, if taking a break allows us space to rejuvenate, recalibrate and re-energize, surely it too then offers us time to slowly break down, decompress and decompose. Removing ourselves from our monotony whilst embedding ourselves in the ground seems only more puzzling when wondering why at graves, dead flowers are replaced with live ones.
Eduard Kiesmann’s Exhibition, ‘Vacation Forever’, offers a new way of organizing the cycle, be it one of life or one of death, or perhaps it is simply the cycle of numerous lives learning that breaking down is as important as building up. As the inky, oily flowers soften on stretched fly
screen, I wonder about the boundaries between being indoors and outdoors, the barriers between the two and the flower’s ability to embellish both.