Maria Farrar: Eaves Deep
Mother’s Tankstation Limited
31 May - 14 July, 2018
Review by Alex Bennett
To see framework undercover: the whippet-thin skeleton of the svelte Greyhound. If speech fails, then navigate the lip. The mouth’s complex interstices allow for a mechanics of immediate erosion and sedimentation, they can, at the very least, give shape a perimeter. With the rectilinear, minute changes can be seen with greater emphasis, when the stroke announces itself: the Greyhound tenses; the lip quivers.
Though it appears brittle, the Greyhound is strong and quick, its structure contradicts its force. Similarly with Maria Farrar’s paintings, lines become not just convenient structure, but a directional thing-in-itself. Out on the promenade; trotting down the plush arcades with pooch in tow; unzipping after tinkling glasses that cradle a fragrant nightcap; in these bourgeois scenes, outlines are barely present on the raw-linen canvas – they are infiltrated by earlier aberrations, their smudges and stains reminiscent of a former state.
Born in the Philippines, educated in Japan, and now based in London, the content of Farrar’s new paintings appears resolutely European, with their hovering trifles bordered by perfectly ripe and gourmet-small strawberries; a strewn pair of Manolo Blahniks; a cloven fig, a coronet-esque croissant; blue tits and pearls; gateau and white mink. Abstractions are stranded, wimp and swishy, the patisserie’s display appears luminous in the matt fondant or lacquered ganache, the leather bags well pampered, the pearls well buffed. Yet with Farrar’s miniature interventions, the decoration feels tight and tricksy but superficially right, as when two cupcakes float as spectral frippery for two dangling pearl earrings. Most attire is unworn, most accessories stripped of a fine neckline or an agile wrist; the Swiss roll, loaves, and pastries are also half-eaten, or untouched, the senses they should vivify are left to condense in the mind.
In the lenient cosmopolitanism and dozy fluff of it all, Farrar’s calligraphic style becomes the centre, where emotive use of colour and line guide the final construction of these scenic aftermaths. Her elegant silhouettes resemble the more sickly, louche, and barnacled figures of Sanya Kantarovsky, and both share a ‘meta’ quality where the line draws attention to the manner of the painting’s own creation. The press release quotes Farrar, who notes: ‘I myself lived in a house which had two parts, a Western style building connected with a corridor to the Japanese part. As a child I genuinely believed there where ghosts in the Japanese part.’ As fragile as eggshell, for Farrar, the phantomic stroke portends the places to come. With gloved hands a waitress holds a painting that shows a Red Delicious apple; progressively bitten in nine stages, the construction of consumption is laid plain and unadorned.