This delightful first solo painting show by Ye Ruoshi was an installation of more than 100 small (1 ft x 1 ft) oil paintings based on (you’ve guessed it!) flowers! But Ruoshi focuses on close-ups of their central interiors, seeking out the mysteries hidden in their sensual depths, and giving of her own interpretation through expressive distortion and imaginative colouration. In this way, her paintings transcend their floral origins to become gems of vibrant and sensual abstractions, although the effect of stepping directly into a gigantic bouquet when one enters the gallery should not be lost.

Flowerism - Going Towards the Light Interlocking Recline Flowerism - Going Towards the Light Interlocking Recline Flowerism - Going Towards the Light Interlocking Recline
Going Towards the Light Interlocking Recline

While American floral painter Georgia O’Keefe had wanted to draw attention to the beauty of flowers by enlarging her subject matter to monumental proportions, Ruoshi focuses on abstract floral miniatures.

She hones in to the relatively undiscovered private world within the petals, the secret conflagration of stigmas and styles with their sensual, slender forms, and transforms them to juxtapositions of lines, curves and coloured sectors reminiscent, but seldom imitative, of their original biological splendour.

And then she will occasionally step back and capitalize on the unique arrangements and patterning of petals in her compositions; an experienced botanist or gardener may guess at the original inspiration for each painting, but to the layman, they are organic extravaganzas of colour and form.

Flowerism - Pink Lady Intruder Flowerism - Pink Lady Intruder
Pink Lady Intruder
Flowerism - Merah Close Encounter Flowerism - Merah Close Encounter
Bunga Merah Close Encounter

Ruoshi creates her studies not through life sketches but through the lens of the digital camera. The Singapore Botanic Gardens and the plantings of the National Parks Board below her apartment are rich sources of materials, and the process starts with a botanical expedition to collect her specimens as digital images.

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Then at home, the development of her composition continues when she uses photo-editing programs to target areas of interest within the original photograph, and experiments with cropping, filtering, distorting and colourizing the pixels on hand. The process of painting her canvases on oil then begins, using the ideas from her photographic sessions. Influenced by her mood and surrounding events, she typically completes one painting a day to meet her target for 100-120 one-footers to fill the gallery space.

Although many of the works are created individually, she may group several that share the same inspirational flower or theme into a single series, for example If Roses Can Speak… (below) which started the Flowerism series in motion, and her orchid fantasy Anggerik. This original rose series has now expanded and doubled, and was begun with a stray idea at night, the subsequent purchase of a bouquet of roses, and a systematic study of buds, full blooms and intriguingly, decay. Ruoshi is also continuing the Anggerik (Malay for orchid) series which hints of additional life lurking behind the abstraction, subject matter which is close to her heart. Otherwise the uniform small size of the paintings has a modularity that may allow collectors to mix and match their personal favourites according to their tastes and budget, and this may encourage painting ownership for first-time buyers.

If Rose Can Speak

Flowerism - Lightness Goldie Flowerism - Lightness Goldie
Lightness Goldie

Depending on where her mood takes her, the flowers in some paintings are easily recognized as discrete entities such as the waterlily in Lightness or chrysanthemums in Goldie. Or they may be closely- cropped compositions which may mystify most except the experienced gardener/botanist, such as the canna flowers in Bunga Merah, or frangipanis in Red Among the Greens… (top). There are several that are patterned after different varieties of orchid petals, mainly Oncidiums and Dendrobiums, such as Intruder, Distortion 1 & 2, Pink Lady and Close Encounter. Then there are abstract fantasies that emerge transformed after filtering through the artist’s mind, such as Old World Charms, Evolution 1 & 2 and Twiggy.

Flowerism - Distortion II Evolution II Flowerism - Distortion II Evolution II
Distortion II Evolution II

Which lady does not love flowers? Ruoshi has now converted an emotional passion into a tangible collection which she now would love to share with the Singapore public in Flowerism.

Flowerism - Twiggy Cloud Nine Flowerism - Twiggy Cloud Nine
Twiggy Cloud Nine