“WHITE PEONIES” was created in the context of the cycle “Trees and Flowers in Time” which I have been working on for quite some time and keep returning to.
The idea for it sprung from various stories in holy books, as well as from my travels to the Near East. Trees and flowers have always been an inseparable part of our life, being symbols of various cultural traditions, mythology, music, art, literature, medicine, architecture, decoration, and not last, but not least – sustenance. Trees and flowers provide us with remarkable examples for non-obedience, courage, persistence, ingenuity and inventiveness. Their symbolism was used by many artists to convey secret messages that could be deciphered by experts who understand their meaning, colours and etymology. Flowers have always helped people express their feelings without actually using words.
The mythology surrounding the origin of the peony has multiple versions. It came from China where it was cultivated more than 2000 years ago. This amazingly pretty flower was even referred to as the “king of flowers” or the “imperial flower”. The peony tree was brought to Europe in 1789.
It symbolizes: honor, beauty, love, romance, wealth, shame, remembrance and rebirth of relationships. These meanings vary according to the different colours of the plant, the most usual of which are red, white and pink. The peony is named after the Greek physician of the gods, Paeon, and is a testament to the plant’s healing qualities as the peony’s roots, seeds, and flowers were frequently used in medicine. It is an ever green plant that blooms only for a very brief period lasting about 5 to 10 days only.
I decided to include this painting in this exhibition because on the first day after the lockdowns in 2020 I had a friend give me a pot of peonies. I immediately associated the painting of the peonies with their short blossoming period. My idea is that a lot of good things in life are short-lived and we should not take them for granted as they may disappear for long before they are given to us again, if at all. It is good to try to capture and savor these moments when they are bestowed upon us, i.e. to live in the present.
As I mentioned, the peony is an evergreen shrub blooming for a short time only and if it is taken care of in the right environment, it could bloom over and over again. The peony in my painting is also associated with the rebirth of friendship. The pandemic subjected to trial many relationships as it revealed the true nature of the difficulties encountered in a lot of them. It broke some of them, but it also managed to rekindle many. This painting is a tribute to the efforts all of us make in order to continue tending to our friendships despite the differences and difficulties springing up in front of them.