The Symbioses of Orchids

Orchids aren’t just pretty things but are fascinating organisms that create intricate symbioses with their environment. Charles Darwin expressed his enthusiasm for orchids in a letter to his publisher: „I cannot fancy anything more perfect than their many curious contrivances“, hinting at the vastly successful adaptation of orchids to attract pollinators. What is more, beyond their ingenious ways of reproduction, orchids also tie bonds below the ground: no orchid can live without entering into a symbiosis with certain kinds of fungi. Sometimes this connection is needed only for germination, sometimes it lasts for life.

By painting on glass, I open up the painted surface: The world behind shines through and the surrounding environment is reflected. The play of two-dimensional painting and three-dimensional installation allows the painted surfaces to gradually become their own object.

My oil paintings of orchids and their symbiotic partners bring together the consideration of their interconnectedness with more abstract thoughts on surfaces. Orchids as surfaces beyond which life-giving symbiotics fungi networks hide; orchids as surfaces that are in direct connection with the outer environment, and with one another, through insects.

This painting reflects upon the symbiotic relationship between the bee orchid and its pollinator. The bee orchid, or Ophrys Apifera, is a wild orchid that grows in Central Europe and other regions. Her evolution resulted in a strong resemblance with her pollinator, the long-horned bee. This shows in the orchid’s furry petals, her smell, and not least her long antennas.

The paintings in this series show close-up views of diverse orchids, enlarged multiple times from their original size. I use the subject matter of orchids to translate categories of surfaces into paintings: each painting of this series represents a different essential property of the idea of a surface.

Still Life and Colour