Paulette Tavormina lives and works in New York City just by my side. Amidst the bustle that defines the city, she can often be found at one of its many farmers markets searching for the perfectly imperfect flora that characterize her photographs. Her arrangements often recall the sumptuous detail of seventeenth century Old Master still life painters and serve as intensely personal interpretations of timeless, universal stories. With a painterly perspective reminiscent of Francisco de Zurbaran, Adriaen Coorte and Giovanna Garzoni, Tavormina creates worldly still lifes.
Tavormina’s photographs are in museum, corporate and private collections and have been exhibited in Paris, London, Moscow, Lugano, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Boston and Chicago. Tavormina, who is largely self-taught, currently photographs works of art for Sotheby’s and works as a commercial photographer. She has collaborated with The Fabulous Beekman Boys, including the critically acclaimed The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook. Previously, Tavormina was a prop and food stylist in Hollywood, her work seen on the silver screen in films such as Nixon and The Perfect Storm.
Following successful exhibitions in London, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, New York, and Chicago, Tavormina returns to Boston next month, where she was first shown by Robert Klein Gallery in 2009.
Botanicals, Tavormina’s newest series, takes a traditional genre and flips it on its head. Popular in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, botanical illustrations aided in the differentiation of species before a codified set of terms had been established. At first glance, Tavormina’s images appear to be deconstructed still lifes. Her ideal floral specimens favor whimsy – a wandering caterpillar, a lone petal – over perfection. Where she once directed the viewer’s eye, she is now dispersing with a central focus and playfully pulling our attention to the edges of the image.
Black & Bloom showcases the artist’s past and present. Natura Morta, an ongoing series Tavormina began in 2008, draws inspiration from seventeenth century Old Master still lifes. Tavormina’s deft assemblages of flora, fauna and filigree – she previously worked as a prop and food stylist in Hollywood – are modern explorations of timeless themes. Selections from Natura Morta, including several recent photographs that have never been shown in Boston.
“These are all my favorite flowers, in all stages of life,” says Tavormina. “They represent my childhood, my memories.” In her quiet, beautiful way, Tavormina reminds us that winter’s root vegetables and summer’s roses can flourish side-by-side, that the seasons have given way to age and time.
Botanicals will be exhibited publicly for the first time at Ars Libri (500 Harrison Ave, Boston, MA, 02118).
Spring is on it’s way….
@ Ars Libri
February 7 – March 29
First Friday with the Artist: February 7 5:30 – 7:30 PM
@ Robert Klein Gallery
February 8 – March 29
Opening Reception with the Artist: February 8 2 – 5 PM