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View of “Adam Vačkárˇ,” 2016. Foreground: This Side of Paradise (Space Seed #1–6), 2016. From the series “Seeds,” 2016. Background: Four works from the series “Counterculture,” 2016.

Adam Vačkář

Dauwens & Beernaert

View of “Adam Vačkárˇ,” 2016. Foreground: This Side of Paradise (Space Seed #1–6), 2016. From the series “Seeds,” 2016. Background: Four works from the series “Counterculture,” 2016.

Gorgeous color photographs, as elegant and beguiling as advertising pictures, showed crisply illuminated vases holding a variety of bouquets before white backdrops. And no less elegant were the steles that were set up in the middle of the gallery. Yet something about this installation by Prague-based artist Adam Vačkář felt disquieting. The series of bouquets bears the title “Beautiful & Damned,” 2014, and they are no doubt beautiful—but why are they damned? Look more closely and you’ll discover that some of the flowers, slipped in among others gleaming in diverse colors, have wilted. And those fresh flowers are in fact artificial, made in China. However perfect the bouquets may look at first glance, impermanence, blight, and death already inhabit them. The show’s title, “This Side of Paradise,” was full of layers. It originated with Rupert Brooke’s 1914 poem “Tiare Tahiti,”

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