Thanatopsis — Aeterna

April 16, 2018 § Leave a comment


AETERNA VOLK IS DEAD. She did not pass! She did not fall asleep! She did not go to the great beyond! Aeterna Volk just died. She was never afraid of death, for if you are afraid of dying, you cannot love to live.

Aeterna Volk does not need a memorial or funeral service to convince herself that she truly is dead. The people who have known and loved her will memorialize her in their hearts. Those who never understood her philosophies will not be moved because she has expired.

— Final entry in a book of poems left behind by Carol Aeterna Volk

At long last roses

October 8, 2014 § Leave a comment

FOR THE FIRST TIME in his long and storied career as a painter of florals, master watercolorist Gary Bukovnik paints roses.

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.

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Making beautiful music together

June 15, 2013 § Leave a comment

FOR MORE than three decades, watercolorist Gary Bukovnik has created a painting every year to announce the new season of the San Francisco Symphony. Here’s a video preview of his latest for 2013-14.

The 2012-13 season poster

The 2012-13 season poster

ARCHIVE: San Francisco Symphony posters

Why flowers?

May 5, 2013 § Leave a comment

Gary Bukovnik | Ecstatic Exodus

Ecstatic Exodus | Gary Bukovnik


A conversation between master watercolorist Gary Bukovnik and Clare Henry, art critic for the Financial Times.

Cezanne spent many years painting apples. Your vocabulary has always been flowers. Yet it’s obvious to me that with your remarkable draftsmanship, you could draw anything you chose. Why flowers?

It’s not an option. Flowers chose me. I tried for years to escape. Flowers are the vocabulary of the language that I speak. I originally fought it, with varying degrees of success. You search and travel to explain who you are. Eventually I understood. These are the true representations of me — for better or worse. Take it or leave it. It has to be.

Georgia O’Keeffe, Robert Mapplethorpe, Odilon Redon, Fantin-Latour, Monet, Van Gogh — think of those sunflowers and water lilies — Demuth, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, all are famous for their glorious flower pictures. Which artists do you admire? Have they influenced your work?

I particularly admire Demuth. If I could have chosen a teacher, it would have been Demuth. He was such a facile watercolorist and had an amazing ability for selective vision, including exactly and only what he wanted to include. I feel a great sympathy with Mackintosh, in particular his watercolors, which in addition to benefiting from his keen eye have a great deal of heart and soul. I love his Zinnias. O’Keeffe and Mapplethorpe use flowers in a completely different way from me; their sensibility is not mine.

Your pictures are very beautiful. Yet you have said that in America having flowers as your subject is a disadvantage and makes for problems. Why is this?

Because flowers are innately beautiful. It’s easy to dismiss something beautiful. In this age of angst and gritty confrontation, curators these days seem to want edgy work. It’s different in Europe, where there is an art historical dimension. And sometimes people feel that watercolors have less value or that those using watercolor are not so committed. To me, that’s ridiculous.
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