Artist statement, May 2016
I’m interested in the way humans constantly search for structure: how we create structures to make sense of what is senseless and how these structures create longing, at the same time that they protect us from loss.
My paintings combine text from disparate sources—biochemistry textbooks, philosophy tracts, songs, and phrases—with carefully observed depictions of birds, insects, and animals. I lay this imagery against a backdrop of vivid color, often alternating passages of rigid patterning with painterly abstraction. I try to find a tension between order and chaos; meaning and abstraction; the bounded and the infinite.
Recently, I have begun a series of sculptural embroideries based on Darwin’s On the Origin of Species. As a mother, I have long been fascinated by the way the body and the mind become an actual site of evolution. These works also explore the Victorian drive to classify and quantify, to define the ‘edges’ of things, where they begin and end. With each piece, I try to assert a sense of order that is on the verge of crumbling. I have been influenced by the humour and pathos of artists like Barbara Kruger and Graham Gillmore, and also by the richness of the latter’s surfaces, and by the bitter yet optimistic paintings of Alexis Rockman. I hope my work leaves the viewer asking questions and looking for more.
email me at: Leah@leahmacfarlane.com