Flowers in a Blue Vase (1608) by Jan Brueghel the elder is an a4-sized vignette of illustrious flowers. The efflorescent blooms take on a neon appearance against the painting’s black velvet backdrop. But beneath the painting’s aging varnish and between the veinous insect wings and seige of petals is a never-ending tangle of hidden narratives.

We wanted to open up the relations that lay dormant underneath the darkening veneer of paint. Stalks of history re-animated, re-layered, re-composed. We did this by distilling the painting, interpreting, extracting and ingesting the essence of Brueghel’s flowers today. The distillation took place on the 19th of May in the stately Vienna Kunsthistorisches museum: Destilling Still Life.


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