“The Best I Can Give You”
Seth Camm at J.R. Mooney Galleries, Boerne
Against a background of darkness, a bouquet of roses is illuminated in an arrangement that is offered towards the viewer as a token of solemn gesture in Seth Camm’s oil painting, “The Best I Can Give You”. The transition from dark to light, the chiaroscuro, is one of the masterly ways in which Camm emphasizes visual and thematic importance of the subject matter. The background is deeply obscure revealing no information of the setting and context in which this offering is made, a gesture that transcends economic status and carries with it the highest form of refined sentiment.
From the giver to the receiver, the meaning long associated with pink roses has been of love, gratitude, and appreciation. The title itself, “The Best I Can Give You” perhaps infers that the artist has established the tenet that the flowers are merely a vehicle through which an affection of the highest regard is expressed toward the recipient. The title of “Queen of Flowers” was bestowed upon the rose since ancient times, perhaps eternally sealing its position as the most exalted of botanical endearments.
The pink of the rose petals are in contrast with the earthy greens of the leaves and foliage of the bouquet. In the focal point of the composition is a rose blossom of near total perfection, surrounded by her sisters in a vivid swirl of floral profusion. One of the commanding paradoxes of Camm’s technique is his visceral application of the paint, gestural frenzied strokes; a vibrating intensity underneath the surface-all coalescing into an intimate and delicate presentation. A deft broad stroke of paint is transformed into the soft curl of a petal.
Layers diverge as they build up in varying degrees of complexity and depth. In the bottom of the painting thinned out areas in the shadows and some sgraffito, (areas in the paint where it has been scratched out) reveal the light foundation color underneath. To contrast this, there are other areas within the leaves where the paint has been applied thickly and even sculpted into undulating textures- this push and pull creates a tension that animates the painting and draws one in, to gaze, to wonder and to feel a sense of awe.
A rose’s evanescent grace continues to inspire and stir the soul of humanity with its sheer beauty. Seth Camm reminds of why: by profoundly capturing the eternal mystique that a rose casts upon us through his skillful and reflective still life.
-Katherine Shevchenko, art consultant, J.R. Mooney Gallery 1/2015