Spring: Maria Farrar


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Ota Fine Arts Shanghai is delighted to present Spring, a solo exhibition by the London-based painter Maria Farrar featuring 11 new paintings. It will be Farrar's third exhibition with the gallery, and her first in Shanghai.

Since completing her Master's degree in 2017, Farrar has received a reputation for her paintings that connect the pictorial language of the East (Manga, calligraphy) and the West (Oil painting, the use of linen). With an acute sense of colour, and dynamic compositions, Farrar depicts scenes derived from her everyday life or from fragments of memories that span the grand lakes of the Philippines to the shopfront windows that line the streets of London. These captured moments are concrete and yet simultaneously elusive, invoking feelings of a floating and expanding world.
Taking its name from David Hockney's artwork "[d]o remember they can't cancel the spring", and in response to the global coronavirus outbreak, this exhibition captures new beginnings and a much needed sense of hope during these times. Most of the paintings in this exhibition were created during the pandemic and 'lockdown'. Unable to travel to her studio, Farrar focused on small-scale drawings that she could manage from home. Through this process, she re-encountered her love for pastels, their immediacy and pure colours, hence creating a number of pastel drawings which went on to inspire the creation of her largest paintings to date "Lake Taal""Beaujolais" and "Chelsea boots". These paintings are a series of rapidly expanding images which she experienced while in a state of being in-between consciousness: right before one falls asleep or when one is about to wake up. As Farrar asserted, "I needed the bigger canvas for the enormous gestural marks I needed to make, to show the dynamic images from the dream like state."

Another highlight of the exhibition is a series of garden paintings titled "Brunnera""Hydrangeas" and "Sunflower". In these paintings, Farrar turns to details as she layers fine brush marks that depicts living plants and organisms commonly observed in nature. While exploring natural landscapes, she "looked at gardens in Botticelli's Primavera, Lucas Cranach's Gardens of Eden, and looked inwards to the garden of [her] childhood home in Shimonoseki." Inspiration for this series came while Farrar was listening to a radio interview. A man who had recovered from coronavirus had spoken passionately about a recovery garden and a large inner courtyard of a hospital filled with plants and flowers that represented a place of hope and peace.

While Maria Farrar continues to explore the connections between the east and the west, she admits it has become more subtle and organic in the actual paintings. "Continuing my journey into colour, the current and next stage is more subtle: how an eastern feeling for colour translates to oil paint." Ota Fine Arts Shanghai welcomes you to join us as we encounter Farrar's dreamy and hope-filled canvases.