Erwan Frotin’s STRANGERS series captures the flowers of Hyères (Flora Olbiensis), the dramatic and highly specialized world of plants in the region around the Villa Noailles—known as a birthplace of Surrealism—and pictures them in a fresh and invigorating way with closer ties to portraiture than a biological cataloguing of species His is a contemporary take on the genre of still life, fusing organic and inorganic materials to form unexpected results. In these images, one truly comprehends the flower as the perfect union of form and function.

The flowers of Hyères are magnified and recorded carefully by Frotin’s camera. Only one plant ever occupies the frame, and each individual plant’s colors and shapes are heightened with the use of vividly colored graduated backgrounds that glow and pulse with energy. The recontextualization of the flowers momentarily confounds but then becomes clear to the viewer, evoking a feeling Freud described as “strange strangeness.” Removed from their natural matrix, isolated in an artificial field of color and captured for posterity, Frotin’s flowers are the converse of traditional notions of their ephemeral beauty in nature.

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