Acrylic and oil on canvas, dimensions variable
Though they epitomize the golden age of Dutch panting, 17th century flower paintings belong in a genre traditionally placed at the bottom of the hierarchy of painting. In Heroic Doodles, Laufer takes up this least heroic of subject-matters, which to this day is associated the realm of the domestic and undemanding. Departing from reproductions of masterworks in the genre, she employs a systematic process that, while generating critical distance, results in highly dynamic, intuitive reworkings of the originals.
Reproductions were projected and traced in pastels and oils, with the drawing projected in turn and retraced – again and again. The repeated tracing is toyed with technically and metaphorically, to the extent that the carefully-rendered flowers are now just brush strokes emptied of meaning. Following the original composition, a small vase is persistently present at the bottom, yet owing to the large format – typically 2.4 by 2.7 meters – the act of painting was physical and all-consuming, gradually dwarfing the vases that can barely contain the wild proliferation of flowers.
Dutch still-life arrangements encode religious and ethical meanings that escape the modern eye. The bouquets in Dutch painting represent a mixture of seasonal varieties that cannot, in reality, coexist. The flowers that make-up these impossible bouquets are represented at the height of their bloom, signifying grandeur alongside imminent decay. In Laufer’s magnified reiterations, the overly-lush painterly gestures come to signify the possibilities and impossibilities in painting with romanticism and galore.