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MELT (119/150)

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Date Minted: January 3, 2020

Artist Description: 119/150 - "MELT" features original photography from my fathers rose garden that's been digitally enhanced with a beautiful turpentine effect by the one and only @TwistedVacancy (animation by @Roses). In Loving Memory R.E.Y.

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

I’ll be frank: I’m deeply moved by artist Roses’ work. Across the board, this collection of 129 pieces runs the gamut of affectation: There’s deep sorrow and true elation, hugely exciting, glitchy, whacked out pieces, and those that are still and somber, those that are pondering, those that are short and curt and angry, those that are nostalgic, those that are confused, those that are comical and lighthearted, those that are the result of collaborations (I spotted Hackatao and Pindar van Arman and KillerAcid, among many others) and those that could only have come from a single mind. Melt (119/150) is my favorite of the bunch. It’s also the one I saw first. Take that as you may. As a meditation on sorrow, as a celebration of life, as a way to capture the essence of a human being and transport him across time, across space, across medium, from the artist to me, sitting here in my suburban New Jersey home, Melt (119/150) is a masterpiece. It’s been on my mind since I first laid eyes on it. 

119/150 - ‘MELT’ features original photography from my fathers rose garden that's been digitally enhanced with a beautiful turpentine effect,” Roses’ Artist Description tells us. So we are in the world of fathers and their children. We are in the world of fathers and their individual lives. An image comes alive for me here, looking at the physical roses —red, white, yellow, purple, pink— flashing across the screen. I see a man bent over in the soil behind a house, maybe beside it, packing in dirt, planting seeds. Perhaps in one hand he has a pair of shears, and is clipping off unruly branches, plucking out weeds with a hand trowel, dunking his nose into a particularly vibrant rosebud. Rose gardens are not easy to maintain. They require work and constant attention. They require innate touch. They require love. The man who tends to a blossoming rose garden is a man of many characteristics: attentive, nurturing, careful, deliberate. I see this rose garden as a sanctum. I see it as something it was clearly important that he shared with his children. I see him through the small window over a sink, knelt down in the dirt, wiping his sweaty forehead with a sweaty forearm, tracking a thin line of dirt across his brow, and reaching for a bottle of water, and enthralled with the whole of it. 

This could be totally off the mark. It’s all a product of my imagination, surely. But that’s the power Melt (119/150) has. It has the power to create. So simple, these pieces seem, yet there are worlds within them. That’s the power of this whole collection. The “119/150” denotes the order in which this piece was created; it is the 119th expression of roses in an oeuvre that has been predestined to reach 150 total pieces and no more (currently only 130 exist) The aforementioned roses, in those five colors, flash dramatically, quickly in the center of the image, each infected with a sickness of dripping color. Literally, these photographs of roses drip color. Detached color oozes off of them in teary lines, each with its own unique pattern, looking almost like smeared paint pulled downward by a wayward brush. The total effect makes a single rose appear to be transforming second-by-second, growing larger in spots, smaller in others, the dripping paint seeming to dance down below the roses themselves, an erratic jig of unrestrained color. 

Each piece in the collection is so different, as mentioned, and Melt has no exact parallel. I’ve never before seen a piece fit so clearly into an artist’s total works, nor have I ever seen such a grand vision laid out within those works, but Roses has created something of truly wide breadth, truly magnificent value, an entire artistic career that is, itself, a touching, beautiful narrative, a great expanse, something that is, itself, much larger than just an artist’s myriad minute expressions.

There’s loss at the center of these pieces. It’s unclear who the artist lost, but each piece, and the entire collection, is dedicated as follows: “In Loving Memory R.E.Y.” In Melt (119/150) more than perhaps any other piece, we can feel that loss. In other pieces, there are images of people, black and white, photograph-style, which capture a specific longing. There are images of a rose in all manner of environment, looking strong, looking wilted, looking resolute. But the emotion that is unlocked via the seemingly-simple construction of a shape-shifting rose in Melt is magnificent. It is an expression of grief, longing, and loss far more powerful because of its lack of connection to any specified image of any specific person. It is the human being made into a symbol, and that symbol is then charged with all the artist’s locked-up emotion. The roses, crying. The roses, changing, faster than we can comprehend, gone before we can appreciate them. The allusion to a father’s hobby in the Artist Description. All coalesce to gift this image an intense hold, and taking it in all at once is mesmerizing; we get lost in the piece, it consumes us, and we let it consume us, because of the deep, indescribable emotions they engender.

In this piece, I see my own loss. I see the faces of my own loved ones. I see my own father. I see my own mother crouched down beside her roses, or a vase with the clippings she laid out on the countertop, or I think of my great-grandmother, Rose, my namesake. These are not pointless or random allusions. They are the product of the piece unlocking emotion and then tying that emotion to a symbol. Instead of the artist providing their own nostalgia, their own memories, allusions to their own life, they recede from their own piece, allowing us as the audience to step within and feel alongside them, magnified by the faces and names and memories we ourselves bring to it. There is space here for our own histories. We are invited to bring them, asked to bring them, given no choice but to bring them in and set them down within the ever-changing roses and feel ourselves losing things, grasping onto ghosts, culling memories. 

Each of these roses, as it flashes by, is different from the others, yet they are bound to each other by place —here— and by species —us— and by lifespan —just a moment. They are easy symbols for us to impose ourselves upon. And we do. And we feel so deeply, as if they are our own father’s roses. As if the drippings came from our own brushstrokes.   

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