Paolo Giardi — The Botanist {You Can Learn a Lot of Things From the Flowers}


Collage, mixed media

Paolo Giardi
The Botanist {You Can Learn a Lot of Things From the Flowers}

Past: October 18 → December 13, 2014

The project You Can Learn a Lot of Things From the Flowers brings back to light a forgotten collection of preserved plant specimens that was once assembled by a passionate, amateur botanist. The true identity of this self-taught man remains shrouded in mystery and all that is known is his enormous appetite for pseudo-scientific research in the natural world.

From his studies in ecology it is possible to trace the foundation of his ideas back to the work of Carl Linnaeus, an eighteenth century Swedish botanist. In his book Systema Naturae, Linnaeus first attempted a revolutionary system of taxonomy based around the number of a flower’s reproductive organs, thus recognising the sexuality of plants. The pollination of stamens and pistils occurring in the secrecy of voluptuous corollas were suddenly mimicking an alcove’s romantic encounter. Botany opened up to the intimacy of sex.

As a late and devoted apostle of Linnaeus teachings, our inexperienced botanist decided to combine his research on botanical conservation with his passion for “les jeunes filles”, young ladies photographed in seductive poses for the centrefolds of adult publications. The result of this curious obsession is an extensive collection of hybrid creatures where each playmate is morphed into the nymph Daphne. An Herbarium of botanical pin-ups.

Paolo giardi you can learn a lot of things from the flowers xii medium
Paolo Giardi, You Can Learn a Lot of Things From the Flowers XII / Dipsacus Fullonum / Playmen — La Playgirl di Ottobre — Clarisse, 2011 Cut out magazine centerfold and insect pins on Somerset paper — 61 × 40,5 cm (framed) — one piece Courtesy of the artist & Less is More Projects

Created within the interception and disjunctions of the plant silhouette, what was once the recipient of the voyeur’s gaze has now become a specimen to be studied and analysed. The male sexual projections and stereotypes are mediated and mitigated by the transformation. The plant and the object of desire: the two things brought together are equal. The botanist becomes the voyeur and vice-versa.

‘Since you cannot be my wife, you shall assuredly be my tree. I will wear you for my crown… And, as eternal youth is mine, you also shall be always green, and your leaf know no decay.’

Apollo and Daphne in Ovid’s ‘Metamorphosis’

For The Botanist — his first solo exhibition at Less Is More Projects, artist Paolo Giardi presents the extended series of You Can Learn a Lot of Things From the Flowers, 66 cut-out intervention on original vintage centrefold, created between 2011 and 2014.

The title of the series is borrowed from the lyrics of All In the Golden Afternoon — the scene of the talking flowers — in Disney’s 1951 Alice in Wonderland. The project is also a tribute to the wonderful and evocative world created by Marcel Proust in his ode to youth in A l’Ombre des Jeunes Filles en Fleur.

In an attempt of preserving cultural resources the artist is adopting, not only the fictitious role of the botanist, but also of the role of the conservationist concerned with the re-materialisation of an appropriated image and concept.

  • Opening Saturday, October 18, 2014 4 PM → 9 PM
11 Bastille Zoom in 11 Bastille Zoom out

5, rue du Dahomey

75011 Paris

T. 06 74 15 43 94

Faidherbe – Chaligny
Reuilly – Diderot

Opening hours

Saturday, 3 PM – 7 PM
Other times by appointment

Admission fee

Free entrance

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Venue schedule

The artist