still have a recurring floral motif, but now it is a symbolic presence not the decorative subject that it once was. The flowers in her paintings now represent something timeless, a spiritual presence. “I can’t imagine they will ever really disappear,” says the artist.
Fleur began painting florals after leaving university. Her degree was in conceptual art. Confused about which direction to take after graduation, she decided to begin with a simple idea, to begin at the beginning. She had painted flowers as a child. She began painting them again to see where they would take her. Gradually the work developed, composition came in, colour, and texture as she began experimenting with different materials.
Experimentation and materials have continued to drive Fleur’s practice. She claims that it feels natural to explore with her hands. There is a real physical aspect to her art making process – the layering of materials, then exposing them, putting things together, adding more texture, more colour, layering again and again.
Fleur describes her relationship with materials in theatrical terms. She sets up a scene of characters and listens in as they have a conversation – photos, paint, textiles, collage all speak to one another as she layers them, allowing things to emerge within the loose framework of her canvas.
When an artist changes the direction of her work it is important to pay attention, for this is an act that requires both courage and audacity.
Fleur Deakin didn’t make a conscious decision to transition toward a new aesthetic, but rather it came about as the result of something within that was challenging her, moving her to create something bolder, away from the decorative work for which she has long been celebrated.
Fleur has experienced great success with her colourful floral paintings, works that speak to a Japanese aesthetic with their flat geometric patterns. But she currently finds herself moving from the florals into more conceptual imagery. She says it feels a natural evolution, the work unfolding as she responds in a new way to her environment.
And this new work is more personal, it goes deeper. The canvases themselves are larger and the imagery more abstract and challenging. Interestingly, her canvases
The final representation does not reveal itself until the end. Though now, with her new work, overt representation is less obvious. There are architectural features present, yet there is a strong abstract element that acts as an invitation into the work, an invitation to experience an emotion, an atmosphere, a quality. The artist’s intention remains ambiguous allowing the viewer to arrive at his or her own conclusions.
One gets the sense that there is nothing false in the movement from the florals to these new abstracts. The artist continues to use the heavy textures and techniques, though her palette has changed and the subject has developed into more of a personal exploration. Where the florals were joyful and celebratory, the new canvases speak to a process of peeling away – into the unknown - toward something deeper. The result is powerful and compelling. We fall into the work, seeking to understand the mysteries that lie within. The imagery continues to haunt long after one has turned away, the song of the work both pointed and enchanting.
Fleur claims that in order for a painting to work for her, it needs to have movement and to feel alive. She tries not to
have an agenda but to allow the painting to reveal itself to her. “Where are you going?” She implores each canvas as she works on it, “What do you want to be?”
It was when the work began to answer her in new ways that the direction of her aesthetic changed. As she struggled to understand the new imagery that began to appear in front of her, she realised she was asking the wrong questions. Now, she was being pointed in a direction that delved into the process of mark-making itself.
No longer was it about composition or flowers. The work was teaching her about the journey and about being present. It was revealing a new network of transitions, as it transitioned her toward a more authentic process, to a more authentic imagery. Fleur says that she is excited by the challenge. It inspires her to keep showing up, to keep experimenting, to continue to ask questions and to follow where the answers will take her.
Transitions: New Work by Fleur Deakin by Crista Cloutier