Charles Blackman 'Bouquet Butterfly'

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Charles Blackman stands among Australia’s most beloved and collectable artists. With a career as distinct as it is diverse, his work is consistently informed by a sense of childlike wonder.

In ‘Butterfly Bouquet’, this curiosity lands on the work’s namesake - a creature as tenacious as it is delicate. In thatching lines and swelling colour, he brings the butterfly to life with characteristic verve. There is a crescendo of abundance here, a cornucopia of colours, flowers and eyes, punctuating the whimsy with wordless intensity.

The butterfly has many symbolic connotations: hope, transformation, purity, life and death. The seventeenth-century Dutch naturalist Jan Swannerdam argued that their life stages were emblematic of life, purgatory and resurrection. In their beauty lies the nascent threat of death. Here, captured into an eternal form, we can contend with this idea before it flutters into the night. 

In Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’, from which Blackman took inspiration for his iconic eponymous series, Alice meets a hookah-smoking Caterpillar. For some, the encounter symbolises change – Alice, having endured the harsh disorientation of change, is yet to witness its positive potential, its transformation into a butterfly. The Caterpillar represents the narrative’s first allusion to this.

This work is part of the ‘Rainforest Suite’. Provenanced from the Charles Blackman Foundation, it will delight collectors of Blackman and works on paper.

Charles BLACKMAN (1928 - 2018)
'Bouquet Butterfly' 1988
Image Size: 56 x 76 cm
Paper Dimensions: 56 x 76 cm
Framed Dimensions: 79 x 89 x 5 cm. Please allow 21 days for the framed variant
Signed: Signed, titled editioned in margin
Comes with Letter of Provenance
Minor smudges in margin.

Condition: Very Good: Describes a work of art’s image As New, but may show some small signs of surrounding wear. There are no tears to paper margin or disruption to paint surface. Image is in Fine condition.
© The Artist or Assignee

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