II
/

Rachel MacFarlane

Canadian, b. 1986
Rachel MacFarlane and Penny in the studio. Courtesy of the artist
Rachel MacFarlane and Penny in the studio. Courtesy of the artist

MacFarlane foregoes empirical representations of landscapes to create fantastical ones filtered through memory.

At the core of Rachel MacFarlane’s richly jeweled-toned works is a lament for the loss of places, especially landscapes, and the process of manufacturing new ones through painting. Informed by texts on the relationship between place and memory, such as Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space and Frances Yates’ Art of Memory, MacFarlane foregoes empirical representations of landscapes to create fantastical ones filtered through memory. Though her works are based on specific sites, MacFarlane builds shallow box models out of paper as a way to distill the memory of a place into an object before transforming it into a painting. These paper maquettes serve as the provisional, observational foundation for her works.
At the core of Rachel MacFarlane’s richly jeweled-toned works is a lament for the loss of places, especially landscapes, and the process of manufacturing new ones through painting. Informed by texts on the relationship between place and memory, such as Gaston Bachelard’s Poetics of Space and Frances Yates’ Art of Memory, MacFarlane foregoes empirical representations of landscapes to create fantastical ones filtered through memory. Though her works are based on specific sites, MacFarlane builds shallow box models out of paper as a way to distill the memory of a place into an object before transforming it into a painting. These paper maquettes serve as the provisional, observational foundation for her works.

Through this process, MacFarlane fabricates new imaginative places, rebuilding them from the residue of memory and the humble material of paper. Through painting a reconstruction of nature, her work speaks to the reparative action we must take in the environment. While she produces an uncanny fidelity of shadow, light, and form, MacFarlane often plays with negating illusionistic space to explore and question the importance of direct experience and the politics of illusion. Influenced by a wide variety of sources, including early Renaissance painters, the metaphysical works of Giorgio Morandi, abstractions by Thomas Nozkowski and Agnes Martin, as well as Canadian landscape painters like Doris McCarthy and Patterson Ewen, MacFarlane investigates the psychological nuances of illusionistic space.

Central to MacFarlane’s work is the question of how to “translate a place without claiming ownership of it;” accordingly, her works expand on the long-standing genre of landscape painting to account for current ecological pressure on natural spaces. This approach helps to deprioritize the empirical recording of a site in favor of a more rhizomatic and fragmented relationship to the environment. New ideas for works are often triggered by expeditions to different sites––recent research trips have included New Orleans, Newfoundland, Arizona, Texas, and Ontario. MacFarlane chooses places purposefully based on their ecologies to get a pulse on various kinds of current environmental changes.

Landscape has long been MacFarlane’s formative backdrop. It frames her understanding of the world, and she sees landscape as spaces that are stoked with memory but also with psychological projection, playfulness, and fear. As the health of our natural environment declines, and in tandem, simulated “natural” worlds proliferate through virtual media, MacFarlane’s works speak to our complicated relationship to the natural world in our late-capitalist milieu and the viability of digital landscapes as a form of surrogate landscapes.

MacFarlane has an MFA from Rutgers University, a BFA from OCAD University, and a Certificate of Advanced Visual Studies from OCADU Florence program. She has had solo exhibitions at the MacLaren Art Centre (ON), Nicholas Metivier Gallery (Toronto, ON), Norberg Hall Gallery (Calgary, AB), Mason Gross Gallery at Rutgers University (New Brunswick, NJ), the Howard Park Institute (Toronto, ON), and Anna Leonowens Gallery at NSCAD University (Halifax, NS). She has participated in group exhibitions across New York City, San Francisco, Florence, Quebec City, Halifax, Calgary, Toronto, and Philadelphia. She is also represented in Canada by Nicholas Metivier Gallery in Toronto, and Norberg Hall Gallery in Calgary.

News

1 / 3
Clearing Gallery Has a ‘Spiritual Partner’ in Harold Ancart, Meet the Art World’s Dedicated Astrologer, and More Juicy Art World...

Clearing Gallery Has a ‘Spiritual Partner’ in Harold Ancart, Meet the Art World’s Dedicated Astrologer, and More Juicy Art World Gossip

WE HEAR…
Artnet, January 20, 2023
1 / 3
Sign up for updates

Stay up to date with Rachel MacFarlane

We will process the personal data you have supplied in accordance with our privacy policy. You can unsubscribe or change your preferences at any time by clicking the link in any emails.