In Maria Marta Morelli’s luxurious oil paintings, delicate peonies almost bloom through the canvas. The works represent the Buenos Aires-based artist’s fascination with the cycle of time and how flowers convey youth but also the “unbearable finitude of life,” she tells Colossal. “With their incredible beauty and freshness, although transitory, they fill us with hope and convince us that life is worth living.”
Morelli works as if using a macro lens, and sunlight, in particular, informs her practice. For each piece, she studies its effect on the fresh flower’s textures and colors throughout the day—“Sometimes objects are only an excuse to paint the light,” she says—and photographs the lively blooms, giving her a record to work off of as they wilt.
Often taking a month or two to finish a single work, the artist’s process is puzzle-like. She first examines the blend of pigments and saturation in small, abstract pieces and then places the information back together through painstaking layering and precise brushstrokes. It’s the paint’s second or third application in which she sees her botanics “come to life,” she explains. “I don’t work with more than three or four layers because I believe the painting must keep some freshness too, like the flowers I’m painting. That’s why I try to apply the right color and value I see on the model from the very start.”
Having started painting as a child, Morelli says that formative experience taught her to think about art as its own language. “Images can say much more than words, and even faster, we know that already, and through a painting, you can show many feelings in a single message,” she explains.
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