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Portraits of Flowers

par Gerard Brender à Brandis, Gerard Brender a Brandis (Illustrateur)

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Brings together more than seventy woodcuts and an introduction by the artist. This book emphasises nature and the small size of the woodcuts with the accompanying feeling on compactness and economy, and suggests an affinity to the Japanese haiku.

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Recently as the depths of winter brought my spirit down, I turned to an old favourite that I had often looked but never reviewed. Portraits of Flowers showcases the engravings of Gerard Brender à Brandis with the words of noted gardening enthusiast Patrick Lima. ( )
  steven.buechler | Jan 10, 2014 |
As the race to 'computerized' and 'digitize' every word and thought occurs around us, it is interesting to take a few quiet moments to look and reflect on something that is well-crafted, tactile and thought-out. Engravers and printers seem to have perfected their art to appeal to people who appreciate those senses. And An Artist's Garden by G. Brender a Brandis is a prime example of a book that works to appeal to those senses.

Page 8-9
Two of the words I hear them apply to my prints astonish me: 'realistic' and 'photographic'. I am surprised at this because I think of my work as being very abstract. I perceive a three-dimensional and coloured world and reduce it to black-and-white patterns on two-dimensional paper. This is something like music heard and then reduced to a score set down on paper. And viewers of my prints, like musicians who can reconstitute the score into music in their heads, can read my images and imagine something close to the subject I experienced at the start of my creative exercise. The process I go through as I create an image remains largely mysterious to me, but I do know that it is far from merely registering, as accurately as possible, the material presented to my eye. I change many lines to satisfy my sense of design, I invent textures that will, I hope suggest the surfaces of the objects before me, and I create systems of light and shadow that will best reveal the fragment of the world I have chosen to depict. What pleases me is that the image I offer the viewers challenges them, like musicians faced with a score, to engage in a creative process of their own, filling out the image with remembered experience. Turning my white dots and dashes into the shimmering, iridescent wings of a dragonfly - and believing in their own conjuring - is the necessary corollary to my process of abstraction. That people are so ready to enter into this give-and-give game fills me with wonder and gratitude. It is very reminiscent of the colouring books of childhood, those invitations to fill the spare outlines with our own sense of the plausible or the fantastic. It is sad that colouring books were so often misused to train young minds into a banal obedience to convention. It is a source of joy to see adults looking at my work and beginning to play.
Link to my complete review ( )
  steven.buechler | Oct 6, 2013 |
Although I am, in some small way, a “student of the complexities of nature’s creations,”* as I have studied herbology, my main interest is in wild medicinal plants, so I wasn’t familiar with many of the plants illustrated here. And I don’t really know anything about wood engraving. Disclaimers aside, this is a beautiful book: I love the texture of the book’s cover (which I can’t help stroking every time I pick it up), and the woodcuts themselves are intricate and lovely. A few of them seem too small to do justice to the details of the engravings, but for the most part I felt like I could spend hours gazing at each of them, marvelling at Brender à Brandis’s skill and meditating on each plant. My favourites are the pussy willow (which is actually on the dedication page), a small and delicate woodcut that so clearly bursts with life, and the Bird of Paradise, which has captured the paradoxical elegance and gawkiness of this amazing plant (and which also happens to be the largest illustration in the book). One small quibble: being a bit of a purist, I was disappointed that “FoXglove” was used to illustrate the letter X. (Are there no plants with names that start with X?)

*According to the blurb on the back of this book, “This collection is intended both for the student of the complexities of nature’s creations and the patron of the intricate art of wood engraving.”

A slightly different version of this review can be found on my blog, she reads and reads. ( )
1 voter avisannschild | Jan 30, 2009 |
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Nom de l'auteur(e)RôleType d'auteurŒuvre ?Statut
Gerard Brender à Brandisauteur(e) principal(e)toutes les éditionscalculé
Brandis, Gerard Brender aIllustrateurauteur principaltoutes les éditionsconfirmé
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Brings together more than seventy woodcuts and an introduction by the artist. This book emphasises nature and the small size of the woodcuts with the accompanying feeling on compactness and economy, and suggests an affinity to the Japanese haiku.

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