Enchanted Garden is the title Mareea Farrasco has given to a small exhibition of her own work available at her IMAGOLand gallery. Comprising just 10 paintings reproduced within Second Life, it is nevertheless an engaging exhibition, taking visitors literally and figuratively on a walk through a garden whilst asking a question.
The paintings are of a classical nature, encompassing themes and styles familiar to any lover of art: nature, women in flowing gowns, hints of faery and fantasy, ideals of love and marriage, summer days with fields of flowers and lavender, and so on. They are presented with a dream-like finish, the haze and soft form suggesting horizons and ideals which extend far beyond the edge of the canvas.
Looking at these images, it is hard not to see within them the echoes of great painters mixed with the imagination of a modern-day dreamer with the rich range of image manipulation tools at her disposal and an imagination capable of carrying us on the wings of story to wherever our own imaginations and dreams choose to alight.
At least three of the pieces paint a story of their own: one of a wedding, the bride and her maids – possible post-ceremony – caught in moments of contemplation (or lightness) within a garden. Posed they might be, as all such wedding photographs are, they encompass both s sense of the romantic painters of a bygone age and the artificial construct of a posed photograph in a manner that might be seen through a certain lens as, well, kitsch.
It’s a sense evident within the other paintings to different degrees, and in using the term I am not in any way denigrating Mareea’s work; for in presenting these pieces, she asks us to define what is kitsch.
Often used in a pejorative manner to express the feeling that a piece of art – visual, written or musical – is naïve, overly-eccentric, gratuitous, or of banal taste. “Kitsch” is a term that at its height became – ironically – somewhat passé, the means by which not so much to pass a critique but to demonstrate our own hipness. However, the term has other connotations; some kitsch art can, for example, be appreciated for the irony or humour or quirky nature without it being visually offensive.
More particularly, Kitsch as a statement has been around for long enough that it might itself be considered an aesthetic category and style of its own; and it is this idea Mareea explores through these ten images. For while they may well encompass themes and elements we might – in different ways – require as “kitsch”: the flowers in the hair, the “soft focus”, the posed nature, the themes of gardens and faeries, there can be no denying that each piece within this collection is beautifully executed as a work of art, and the pieces collective are an expression of art and talent that is richly evocative. As an adjunct to this, Mareea also asks us to consider kitsch more widely, pointing our thinking – if we are so inclined – towards how it might be considered as broadly as within the topic of politics…
However, I’ll leave that for you to discover and close this piece by saying this is a engaging, easy-to-view selection of art, whether you opt to see it in its own light, or through the lens Mareea casts upon it in her introduction.
- IMAGOLand Gallery (Stairways to Heaven rated Moderate)