New York (December 20, 2022)—Hollis Taggart is pleased to announce its representation of Rachel MacFarlane (Scarborough, Ontario; b. 1986), who joins the gallery’s growing contemporary program. 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. A selection of MacFarlane’s works was included in Hollis Taggart’s 2022 group presentation, Dimensions, at the gallery’s Southport, Connecticut location. A solo exhibition of the artist’s paintings is being planned for 2024.
"We are very excited that Queens-based artist Rachel MacFarlane is joining our roster. MacFarlane's distinctly contemporary and dramatic landscapes are the result of a meticulous process and deep engagement with art history, making her work an ideal fit for Hollis Taggart Contemporary's growing program," said Paul Efstathiou, the director of Hollis Taggart Contemporary. "We are especially looking forward to her upcoming residency in Prince Edward Island in Canada, where she'll be studying the impact of Storm Fiona on the landscape, and to working towards a solo show of her work in 2024."
Even 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.
Rachel MacFarlane lives and works in New York City. She 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.
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