It’s the season for glistening, metallic flowers to bloom in Brooklyn. Come to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden for the majesty of nature (and 12,000 different plants), stay for the French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel’s sublime floral sculpture exhibition.
“The Flowers of Hypnosis” opened last month and runs until October 22. It consists of six site-specific pieces and took Othoniel a year to produce. Using his signature strands of hammered steel spheres, Othoniel conjured visions of lotus blossoms and a shiny rose. As per the title, it is meant to be a heady, thought-provoking experience, as well as a journey into Zen.
“Nature can be a source of inspiration, contemplation, and beauty,” the artist said in an audio introduction to the show. “It’s very important now as a goal to survive the world to escape reality or to build yourself strong enough to face reality—that’s the power of gardens. In general, my sculptures are here to enchant and to push this feeling of contemplation in a stronger way.”
The enormity and materiality of the flora adds a surreal tinge to the paradisical surroundings, but at the heart of the project seems to be the artist’s goal to service his surroundings and pay homage to the ecology.
“Jean-Michel has a passion for gardens, flowers, and the natural world that reveals itself in his works for ‘The Flowers of Hypnosis,’ which respond to and enhance their garden settings,” said Adrian Benepe, president of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
“The Flowers of Hypnosis” is sponsored by Dior as part of its Cultural Gardens initiative, which was formed to “maintain the intense links between creativity and the living world that forged the house’s identity.” A new Othoniel art piece created for the brand will be unveiled at a Dior-hosted event at the gardens on September 7.
Othoniel’s art style might be familiar from his iconic Palais-Royale metro station in Paris. He had a 2012 survey that stopped at the Centre Pompidou, Brooklyn Museum, and other institutions. He has a permanent installation at the Château de Versailles, a dramatic serpentine fountain emerging in the palace’s lush garden.
The artist continues to be drawn to the natural world. “Gardens leave a great deal of space for the irrational, the inexplicable, the extravagant,” Othoniel said. “They are places of mystery, magic, and secrecy.”