Bloom by Ron Van Dongen

The book starts with this great quote: “Flowers have spoken to me more than I can tell in written words. they are the hieroglyphics of angels, loved by all men for the beauty of their character... though few can decipher even fragments of their meaning” by Lydia M. Child. Bloom simply presents the flower as art. Ron van Dongen has presented with this book a special bouquet of images that celebrate life. He inspires within all of us a renewed respect for nature and a knowledge of the fragility of beauty - by Peter Fetterman. Introduction by Ron van Dongen: Plants have always been part of his life, but have become more important since he started to photograph them. His earlier images were black & white, but with the shift to a new, larger garden came the change in approach to his photography by introducing colour in it. This change has created an new inspiration and joy in both photography and gardening. The colour images have shown a richness and liveliness that B&W simply does not reveal. The images in this book are created using natural light and sometimes simply painted back grounds, that either contrast or reflect the plant colour. “The beauty of plants and flowers are enough and he has no desire to exaggerate that beauty, but to make it as simple and plain as possible thereby discovering the most intricate details of these architectural masterpieces.” Through the combination of the photography and gardening he has grown in his understanding of botany, they are a synergistic pair feeding each other. Gardening reinforces his love for plants and photography the love of fine art prints. Most of the prints in this book are close up shots of flowers, one or more. All the plants have been named with their botanical name (common names only confuse, as several plants can have the same common name.) These images make me think of Karl Blossfeldt, Edvard Koinberg, Imogen Cunningham, Robert Mapplethrope, Iving Penn - Literal botanical imagery, with a delicate beauty about them. As I leaf through the book I find myself drawn to those images where either the background is of similar colour to the subject or where the plant has been photographed from an unusual angle. These then remind me off the pepper’s that Edward Weston took, where you had to do a double take at the image. The images where the background blends in and plays with the boundary of where the plant stops and the imgres-1background starts:    Tulipa ‘Queen of the night’ - here the bright green stem is soft enough (out off focus) and short enough to not stand out at the base of the page, but it leads you into the image and the discovery of the tight bud of the tulip, just stands out from the background.   imgres         Arisaema nagustatum - here the flower appears to float above the sky of its foliage, a bit like a sky scraper.   The Brugmansia x candida is a spectacular image, as the ‘peticoat hoop’ of the flower petals, hang elegantly but also filled with tension just above the edge of the page. The movement within the image of the Pennisetum ‘Purple majesty’ is fantastic. The eye leads you up the stem to the bud and then bends you over the gentle curve of the leaf to the base of the page, to start the whole visual path again The book is filled with many fantastic images of flowers, but certainly these 4 grabbed my attention. As mentioned earlier, they have something different from the others. What was a challenge for me was the fact that the plates were not listed alphabetically, but that is the plant nerd in me. There was no indication of why the plates were ordered the way they were, as there was no obvious order for me, in which case I would classify this as a florilegium (=This is a compilation of plants according to beauty and not medicinal or other uses).   Book; Van Dongen, Ron. Bloom (2006) Auckland, NZ. Hachette Livre NZ Ltd. Websites visited:

Posted by Elle Anderson

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