Adam Saks’s Ambiguous Poppy Paintings Bloom at Helsinki’s Galerie Forsblom

Next week the Danish-born, Berlin-based painter Adam Saks will open an exhibition of bold and intricate new floral paintings at Galerie Forsblom in Helsinki. The new works investigate the mixed symbolism of poppies as floral elements that are irrevocably tied to the history of the opium trade and, more recently, the war in Afghanistan.

Layered into the bold-hued floral motifs are traces of historical, contemporary, and occasionally hallucinogenic imagery that contribute to the quasi-narrative and puzzle-like compositions of his paintings.

The new works draw on sources including historic illustrated travel journals and paintings of opium dens in London in the 19th century, while linking the opium wars of that period to today’s conflicts in the Middle East.

“Adam Saks: Portrait of the Moon & a Single Blue Frog” opens at Galerie Forsblom on February 7 and continues through March 10.

— Benjamin Sutton

(Image: Adam Saks, “Purple Poppy,” 2012; Courtesy the artist, Galerie Forsblom.)