The Floating Garden
Natasha Schlesinger of ArtMuse and Art Expert for The Surrey, has curated an exhibition she has called “ArtSpeak”. This exhibition creates a platform for artists to use their artistic language of words, signs, numbers, tags and even binary code to explore multiple ways to communicate with and reflect upon society. ArtSpeak encourages the idea that artists communicate with their audience through an established language paradigm. Schlesinger has selected works by eight contemporary artists who contribute to and stimulate our cultural dialogue.
The installation is a first of its kind at the hotel and culminates with a new commission. Floating Garden by Peter Gerakaris transforms the rooftop environment by harmonizing with the garden, sky, and cityscape. Enveloping three sides of the central garden structure, the artwork generates a sense of place for the convergence of nature and culture. Inspired by botanical and built environments, Gerakaris’ “Post-Pop Botanic” style offers a distinctive aesthetic that “tickles the retina and mind,” while presenting a post-natural vision of nature as if diffracted through an urban lens. The mural’s details and materiality – such as faux wood grain, cropped brush strokes, torn paper, and morphed honeycomb patterns – mine the artist’s passion for remixing global motifs culled during his exotic travels, including a vivid re-imagining of huaping, Chinese folding screen paintings.
He takes additional cues from the Japanese concept of “The Floating World” (Ukiyo) – an imagined universe that often fuses wit and style with sensual fantasy. The artist’s abstract, collage-like vision draws upon everything from medicinal botanicals and agriculturally terraced landscapes, to the impact of climate change on agriculture, and the alarming disappearance of the worker bee.
Viewers are invited to participate in the search for vanished pollinator silhouettes within the imagery. The project also suggests a striking parallel between garden and artwork: both are artificial constructs engaging our imaginations. As a playful nod to the Floating Garden’s reference of the disappearance of the worker bee, cocktail alchemist Johnny Swet combines honey with tequila for the signature Lemon Sorbet Margarita.
Peter D. Gerakaris