March 9, 2017 10:45 AM EST

Flowers for Lisa, as it sounds, is Abe Morell’s ballad. Like a deliberate collection of bouquets from Manet, Mitchell and Penn, his new series is effeminate and tender, painterly yet instructed. Morell’s gingerly-framed flowers began as a birthday gift to his wife, Lisa McElaney, with a desire to prolong the pleasure that flowers suggest. Morell went on to investigate the language of flowers, and pronounced them by combining multiple frames of different arrangements to create images of euphoria.

For Morell, enlisting an object so laden with connotation is seemingly complimentary to his relationship with his wife. “Marriage and intimacy appear in so many shapes of harmony and conflict. I love how flowers constitute a simple subject that is flexible enough to invite visual invention and discovery,” Morell tells TIME.

But Flowers for Lisa is not all visual intentions. Morrell equates the idea of rhythmic elements to visual structure, like the musical counterpoint where melody lines play against each other to form a new experience. He compares this to the likes of Jackson Pollock’s paintings, “I think that it may actually be possible for a talented composer to transpose those paintings into musical performances,” he says.

On the wilder shores of love, Flowers for Lisa is loyalty spelt and whispered in charming voices. Morell’s flowers demand sensitivity, patience and a certain kind of rigor not just from the maker, but the viewer as well. Now if only the perfume of flowers can come through.

Abelardo Morell: Flowers for Lisa is open March 9 through April 29 at Edwynn Houk Gallery.

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