graphic features Giuliana with Pears 


Artist's Statement in the Words of his Wife, Giuliana

  It was March, still cold outside, but the spring ritual had already begun in our home. David, my green thumb husband, was preparing the seed trays with tender love. I was happy that the gloomy winter was over, but the artist's joy lay in the anticipation of what would bloom and grow as subjects for his still lifes.

Trays of tomato, cucumber, cabbage, and other vegetable seeds set in small containers were left covered near the kitchen window, where they would receive plenty of light.
Every morning he uncovered the trays to look at the seeds' progress. Often, as I was ready to take a bath, he would call me downstairs. "Come, come, hurry up!" he would cry. Quickly, I would put on my robe and run barefoot downstairs. "Look, we have a birth. The baby cabbage is the first born!"

David Flackman, portrait artist and student of the late Pietro Annigoni of Florence, Italy, became a still-life painter when we moved from New York City ot my mother-in-law's house on Long Island after she lost her husband. It was then that David, changed from Gucci wardrobe to K.M.'s jeans and for the first time he held a spade, hoe, trowel and other garderner's tools. His artist's hands became rough and calloused and his fingers stiff, but he felt the need of physical effort. Didgging and hoeing eased the pain of his father's death and calmed his mind. He found truth in the saying: "Natura Artis Magistri" (Nature is Master of Art), for when David finally returned to the easel his soul and mind beheld the Creator's beauty and he humbly painted what he had grown.

At last when the harvest time arrived, the best vegetables did not enter my kitchen. They went as "divinities" into his studio, where the artist painted their portraits. His work was so realistic that it seemed as if he had breathed onto the canvas. It was through nature, like St. Augusting's "First Philosophic Way", that he found God. Cabbage, eggplants, tomatoes poised in front of the artist who took a long time to finish a painting, and they slowly died a natural death -- old age -- but their beauty endured on David's canvases.

Among the many wonders in David's garden there was an eggplant called Agora, which comes from Italy, and it has been defined as the Platonic eggplant for its perfect shape. His Marmande tomatoes are also visible in Louis Melendez's still life -- the 18th century Spanish painter, who inspired David to grow and paint them -- and even the delicious Zucchini Tondi, which the Incas originated in Peru, were among Flackman's specialities.

Going from David's vegetable garden to the flower beds was a daily activity. David had painted his flowers -- roses, peonies and lilies, but his interest in irises began while visiting my family in Florence, Italy, where he admired the Palazzo Pitti, Hugo Van Der Goes's painting, "Adorazione dei Pastori", a triptych with a still life of irises.
This beautiful flower, often mistaken for a lily, is Florence's symbol, depicted in paintings as a red flower on a white background.

Back in the United States, David began his Iris garden. He collected 150 irises of six different types from Italy and Japan, which added to his gardening chores during the busy summer season. David spent hours gardening while I sat inside playing the piano. Whenever I received a phone call for him, he would run inside with dirty feet and dirty hands and perhaps not quite in the spirit of St. Francis, I would bless all the gardeners, the painters, the birds, the seeds, the vegetables, the rain and the sun!

But my admiration for David endured, as I watched him work in the garden and in his studio love and care.


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