Flowers for China

March 26, 2014 § Leave a comment

Gary Bukovnik at work on his largest watercolor yet.

Gary Bukovnik at work on his largest watercolor yet.

SAN FRANCISCO PAINTER Gary Bukovnik has become increasingly popular in China, with a number of museum exhibitions of his watercolor paintings of flowers in recent years.

His latest exhibition will open September 6 in Beijing at the Today Art Museum, one of China’s most important contemporary art museums. Already Bukovnik has had exhibitions at the Shanghai Hongqiao Contemporary Art Museum, the Tianjin Museum of Art, the Xiamen Museum of Art, the Museum of the Suzhou Art Academy and the private Jiya Art Gallery in Quanzhou. In September 2013 there was an exhibition of his watercolors at the Beijing American Center of the U.S. embassy in Beijing and another at Art China 2013 arranged by the embassy.

Gary Bukovnik | Maquette for Butterfly's Love for Flowers

Gary Bukovnik | Maquette for Butterfly’s Love for Flowers

Today Art Museum is a sprawling space, which presents opportunities for larger paintings. Bukovnik has completed a maquette for his largest painting to date, which will consist of seven panels that altogether measure 8 by 30 feet. Each panel will hang freely in the tradition of Chinese scrolls. Around and slightly in front of the painting will be 199 painted butterflies hanging from thin red strings. The title of the painting, “Butterfly’s Love for Flowers,” comes from a well-known Chinese love poem that was subsequently set to music and became a popular song.

“I first heard this music sung by the remarkable Chinese singer Song Zuying in San Francisco at Davies Symphony Hall,” says Bukovnik, whose paintings are on permanent display in symphony hall in a special gallery devoted to his work. “I had admired and heard her many times on television in China, but it was at the concert that I decided to make this painting and installation as my artistic homage to the poem and to her.”

This will be one of the largest watercolors ever created.

“I often paint in very large scale, but this has exceeded anything I’ve ever done before in sheer size and scope,” he says. “As in other large pieces — such as Monet’s Nympheas series in Paris — it changes the way the viewer perceives the subject matter. I am not Monet, but I am trying very hard to broaden my personal art and also possibly the way my lifelong subject matter is viewed.”

Gary Bukovnik | Maquette for Butterfly's Love for Flowers

In Gary Bukovnik’s studio, Butterfly’s Love for Flowers is nearly complete

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