PHYLLIS ODESSEY

Deck the Halls with Bouquets

Gerben Mulder’s show FLOWERS at Newman Popiashvili Gallery is the perfect antidote to a grey day in Manhattan.  You might think these paintings belong to the German Expressionist Movement.  But you would be wrong.  Mulder is Dutch, born in 1972; still a young man by some people’s standards.

The Dutch have a tremendous tradition of still life painting.  They are a horticultural nation of flower growers, plant explorers and garden designers.  Anyone who has slogged their way through Anna Pavord’s book about the tulip is all too aware of Dutch obsession with one flower.

I was recently asked whether or not there was an “American” style of gardening or if we were just borrowers.  I thought about it for about half a minute and decided that we just don’t know how turn what we have into a style.  It’s people like Piet Oudolf (another Dutchman), Dan Pearson and Ulf Nordfjell who looked at the American prairie and turned into an international style.

Mulder has his own style, even if it seems a bit retro.  Unlike a lot of what you see today, it’s not conceptual.  It is what it is.  You don’t have to think, just feel.  It was worth trekking to Chelsea for this bit of sunshine.

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