The Meaning of Beauty

Artist Deborah Bigeleisen Defines Beauty in Her Iconic Paintings

Since ancient times poets, artists, philosophers, songwriters, and authors have been offering up their interpretation of beauty. Defining beauty is more of an art than a science. Chinese philosopher Confucius believed that “everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” Artist Georgia O’Keefe said that that if she could “paint that flower in a huge scale, you could not ignore its beauty.” The Persian poet Rumi defined beauty broadly noting, “Everything in the universe is a pitcher brimming with wisdom and beauty.” He also believed that you should, “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”

A tour through the studio of Deborah Bigeleisen reveals how her paintings illuminate her fascination with the beauty of flowers and her skill in presenting their essence in original, organic, and flowing fashions. Working with a single image of a flower, or a component thereof, she strips away the mask of the exterior form and magnifies the interior thousands of times to depths beyond what is visible to the naked eye. Her subject is no longer simply a flower; it is a refreshing perspective of beauty, sometimes chaotic, other times calm, often complex, and always authentic. 

Bigeleisen’s work focuses on the choreography of the movement, the subtlety of the tonal transitions, and the intricacy of the brushwork to draw the viewer’s eye into the myriad of complexities. Throughout her career, she has painted more than 150 roses, almost 25 gardenias, along with other floral varieties including lisianthus, lilies, sunflowers, and orchids, in visions from hyper-realist to non-objective. Implementing the painting techniques of the Dutch master artists which incorporates many transparent layers, she captures the essence of flowers and shares that beauty.

If Bigeleisen were to paint a definition of beauty it would be rooted in flowers, illuminated in the colors of nature, and swirl with a magical movement. At her core, Bigeleisen believes that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder. 

Explore the ways she expresses beauty in her collections.

Light as Beauty

Bigeleisen has been captivated by natural forms since childhood. She embodies the personal philosophy of Rembrandt who “loved what he painted and only painted what he loved,” a portrait painter must reveal the character of their subject – their mood, inner drama, and mystery – not merely copy a likeness. Applying similar principles to her painting practice she uses light as her muse and works with glazing mediums applying upwards of twenty translucent layers to mold the forms and capture her subject’s spirit.

Following is her painting titled under “© 2007 White Rose 5, oil on canvas, 28” x 26””

A white rose with a dark background

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Color as Beauty

Evolving from the work that launched and defined her career – representational and non-objective depictions of natural forms in monochromatic or analogous color themes – the Kaleidoscope series integrates the pure definition of a kaleidoscope –a complex, colorful, and shifting pattern – where Bigeleisen combines realism, surrealism, and abstract expressionism. “The flower keeps us rooted in the classical perception of beauty while the abstract planes represent the changing times eroding away at our norms,” says Bigeleisen.

Following is her painting titled under “©2020, Renaissance, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 56” x 42”” 

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White as Beauty

White has been a constant throughout many of Bigeleisen’s paintings. White is a positive color. White suggests goodness and spirituality. White is the color of positivity, of possibility, the color of perfection, and the color of light and illumination. White is the color of new beginnings, the blank canvas where Deborah brings her visions of beauty to life. 

Following is her painting titled under “©2007 Snow Swan, oil on canvas, 57” x 57””

A picture containing plant, flower, cloth, rose

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Transformation as Beauty

Bigeleisen’s credits her research into fractals for transforming her vision. By going to depths inside a flower beyond what the naked eye can see she discovered an entirely new universe, a dynamic system filled with chaos, mystery, and beauty. To capture the depth of her subject’s anatomy, its dynamism, its turbulence and its unpredictability, she uses a carefully controlled palette to engage the viewer and ask them to question their bond between human activity and the patterns and cycles of nature. Bringing a unique vision to the floral genre to embody a contemporary world, Bigeleisen brightens the modern world with her unique way of expressing beauty.

Following is her painting titled under “©2011 Reductionism, oil on canvas, suite of 4 panels – 20” x 20” each”

A picture containing bird, swan, plant, different

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Nature as Beauty

The DREAMSCAPE series renews Bigeleisen’s style of painting Rembrandt-like

‘portraits’of a single image of a flower combined with a fresh surreal edge. The magnitude of the scale of the flowers interacting with waterfall effects captures the power, the energy, the awe, and the beauty that she sees in nature.

Following is her painting titled under “©2021 Bridal Veil Falls, acrylic on canvas, 60” x 54””

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Deborah Bigeleisen is an award-winning artist whose paintings enhance corporate and private collections worldwide and are represented by galleries across the United States. Her work has been included in numerous museum exhibitions and has been published widely. Bigeleisen paints from her Palm Beach studio sprouting joy and wonders with each brushstroke and new canvas. 


TBN Editor

Time Business News Editor Team