FLORUM SOMNIA FORWARD
Bob Landström is attuned to the silent operations of our world: the inaudible (to the human ear) waves of communication between mice and poppies; the sound waves carried on the wind in the planetary tango between bats and peonies.
The airborne sounds Landström depicts in his current body of work “Florum Somnia” are the ultrasonic pops and crackles that stressed or dehydrated plants make to communicate their distress. Inspired by research chronicled in the scientific journal Cell, Landström has created paintings that visualize this newly discovered botanical language. His artworks alert us to a complex symphony occurring outside our reckoning.
“Florum Somnia” — which translates to “plants dreaming” — makes one wonder what else we have been missing as we plod along our well-worn paths, oblivious to the flowers releasing nectar when they “hear” the sound of a hovering bee or the traumatized wail of an anemone yearning for water.
In Landström’s color-saturated canvases, ribbons of sound and percussive bubbles float across the painting surface in a kind of sheet music of the cosmos. An interpretive soundtrack created by Landström using a MIDI synthesizer accompanies the paintings, to imagine what those botanical orchestrations might sound like.
Landström’s work is a powerful reminder of our human tendency to order the world as a hierarchy with humans at the summit and animals and plants down below. That homo sapien-defined pyramid scheme of pain, feeling and sentience could be why humanity has made such a muck of the planet. Landström’s work is a metaphor for the peril of ignoring what our physical world is telling us. In poetic, often whimsical visuals populated by extraterrestrial-looking vegetation and hidden plant people, Landström pays tribute to the flora that occupied Earth 500 million years ago, long before the first hairy human foot crushed a delicate buttercup.
“Florum Somnia” is an abstract, imaginative rendering of a scientific reality. But Landström’s body of work is also a celebration of the orchestral thrum of our natural world, an idea that occurred to him after a formative encounter with plant medicine. It was an experience that opened his mind to the many realities outside our comprehension. Like so many artists, Landström makes visible the invisible.
An electrical engineer for almost 40 years, Landström’s sensitivity to how science is its own hidden language of laws and consequences, is manifest in his art.
Using the innovative material of volcanic stone sourced from a 300 million year old deposit in the American Southwest, Landström’s material speaks to his metaphysical interests and a fascination with ancient civilizations. He dyes grains of crushed volcanic rock in a fantastical palette of brick, ochre, merlot and cranberry. His paintings have the tactile heft of mosaics but with a more seamless, soothing quality.
Though “Florum Somnia” is grounded in science, Landström’s image bank is pure imagination and full of unbridled joy and charming lyricism. His gorgeously inventive paintings are populated with strange colonies of bubblegum pink variegated daisies, clusters of puffed rice buds on snaking orange stalks and songbirds as intensely patterned and hued as coral fish, poking their beaks from the sidelines into all that blooming mayhem.
Forward by Felicia Feaster
Felicia Feaster is a well known editor, writer, critic and video producer specializing in art, culture and lifestyle topics with over 25 years of industry experience. My writing has appeared in The Economist, Elle, Travel + Leisure, HGTV magazine, Travel Channel, Art in America, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Playboy. I have been featured as a lifestyle and culture expert on Fox News, Forbes.com, the New York Times, the Associated Press, CNN, HGTV Magazine, Turner Classic Movie's FilmStruck and NPR.