Existing on the boundary between abstraction and naturalism, the landscapes of Mari Eastman and Dee Ferris offer viewers a fantastical vision rendered with flowing textures and lyrical colours. Exhibiting a great poetic presence, there is an overarching sensation of the nostalgic elusiveness of a distant memory. The luscious abstraction that initially strikes viewers gradually gives way, as one makes out the mere glimpses of the subjects that both artists present. In Dee Ferris' s Well Hung and Pale White Tan one can make out the hint of a figure, and the same stands for the dog in Ideal Homes I. These forms are swallowed by the vast colour fields around them, emerging out of the pearlescent mists of the canvas. Ferriss particularly emotional use of colour reminds us of the great English painter William Turner. Turners renowned visceral storms are referenced in Ferriss landscapes as the artist explores the reflections of the light on the water and the leaves around it. Yet in Ferriss works, the relationship between human and nature has shifted. A landscape that was once sublime and threatening now appears tamed and peaceful. Equally, in Eastmans Apocalypse Now Redux the cerebral power of paint echoes the sentimental nature of landscape. This work enchants the viewer with its vibrant colour, and it is only through the title that it becomes apparent it is in fact a kitsch reworking of the sunlit landscape on the famous poster for the cult movie classic.
All three works offer a profoundly emotive and atmospheric quality. Both artists marry tones and hues together with seamless dexterity, and their loose brushwork suggests a kind of blurring of the image. This ensures the paintings are freed from any predictable appeal and conventional meaning, becoming something new and undefined. The beautifully worked surfaces are immensely alluring, and the nebulous brushwork invokes a sense of longing. This is heightened by the scenes themselves, in which the landscape is presented as an idea rather than location, with emotive desire taking precedence over nature. In all works, there is a sense of drama and an over the top sentimentality that contributes to the somewhat kitsch results, heightened by the inclusion of glitter on the surface of Apocalypse Now Redux. A form of contemporary romanticism, these scenes offer an alternative reality, inviting viewers to step into a dream-like world of emotional excess. Eastmans April and Bunny stretch this to the limits. Taking as her subject matter a kitten and bunny rabbit, she has intentionally presented viewers with the ultimate in whimsical beauty. Referencing kitsch traditions, Eastman knowingly brings it into the world of contemporary art, marrying her masterful painterly technique with the subject matter in a form of perfect unison.
These five works are portals to enticing worlds that delicately unravel in front of our eyes, sometimes leaving behind characters that have been lost in the transition from real to imaginary. In Dee Ferriss Hallelujah the forms that can be seen in Well Hung and Pale White Tan and Ideal Homes I have seemingly dissolved into the paint surface, their traces left in the blotted, almost liquisecent colours that bleed into the canvas. As if all the works have gradually been blurring over time, the figurative elements such as the kitten, the bunny, along with the two standing figures speak of an extreme ductility in medium as a tension between reality and fantasy, figuration and abstraction. In this way, Well Hung and Pale White Tan, Ideal Homes I, Hallelujah and Apocalypse Now Redux present landscapes as ideas rather than locations, embodying and presenting an artificial perfection which emphasises the supremacy of emotive desire over nature.