For background on the artist and works, see below.
About the ArtistEmma Bass studied photography in Auckland and pursued it as a full time career about 20 years ago, building a considerable reputation as a go-to practitioner for the quality of her portraiture, interiors and other commercial work. She began exhibiting fine art photography about 12 years ago with a series exploring the reality of pregnancy and motherhood. Her most recent work has been in the Imperfect series, focused on unexpected images of flora, beautifully arranged in vintage vases, but finding beauty in the imperfect, aging or wilting. The success of this series led to Imperfect II. The exhibition at The Diversion Gallery brings together the most unexpected, or imperfect, of those two series. Emma Bass lives in Auckland where her studio is based. She is regarded as a fast-rising emerging artist with a distinctive take on life, flora and photography.
The photographic works of Emma Bass are lusciously seductive, but close up these floral compositions deliver a sharp bite of reality. This is the artist’s personal commentary on the transient nature of beauty, and a world too obsessed with perfection.
Bass draws us in with palpable textures, sublime colours, flower arrangements perfectly lit. Then you realise things are not as they seem, that she has made something exquisite of flora beginning to fade, fall, wilt – the reality of ageing. There’s an undercurrent of humour: a tulip gracefully tipping to kiss the table; comical red hot pokers on snaking stems searching to escape the formal vase; life’s rejects—thistles, weeds—elevated to celebrity status in formal poses, translucent beauties. Insects lurk in dark spaces, or stalk the petals of a peony.
Her limited edition works appear studio-lit, yet are captured on a ledge at her Auckland home with the chaos of young children about her, the actual time noted in each title. She references centuries of European paintings of fruit and flowers as a metaphor for life, but her work owes more to the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-sabi, an acceptance of the integrity of things as they are. She matches the subject flora with one of her large collection of vintage vases, some Crown Lynn, others acquired from around the world.