A Holotype Heart
2018

Well/Bell, 2018
oil on linen, encaustic on plywood
600 x 600mm

A Holotype Heart, 2018
Hopkinson Mossman, Wellington

A Holotype Heart, 2018
Hopkinson Mossman, Wellington

Xin Yang, 2018
oil on linen
1000 x 800mm

Serenity, 2018
oil on linen
1100 x 900mm

Wheat/Faith, 2018
oil on linen
600 x 600mm

Stone tone one, 2018
oil on linen
600 x 600mm

Justice, 2018
oil on linen
500 x 500mm

Graze, 2018
oil on linen
600 x 600mm

H.H. Frond, 2018
oil pastel, acrylic, paper clay, custom frame
670 x 550mm

H.H.Froth, 2018
oil pastel, acrylic, custom frame
660 x 540mm

E.M.R.B., 2018
paper clay, plaster, pastel, acrylic
360 x 360 x 270mm

With a finger you can feel every grain of sand, and with your vision you can clearly distinguish the branchings of distant trees, but the arterial branchings of your own heart you are totally unable to feel, although life depends on them.*

Still vaguely human, in their profiles at least, Farquhar’s new works focus on the dynamic of outer and inner worlds, played out through a compression of two oppositional forces: the imaginative, or unknowable, with the biological or scientific. A holotype is the physical example of a specimen from which its classification is determined and described; a single individual used to represent a species. As an exhibition, A Holotype Heart works against the idea of an independent or pre-determined structure, and instead imagines forms whose vitality stems from their compound, hybrid nature.

The lush surfaces of Farquhar’s paintings have been likened to petri dishes as sites of abundant biological and painterly growth. Compared to earlier paintings, where the head-and-shoulders is more recognisable, the works in A Holotype Heart use the body-form as a frame, or basic structure to contain a more complex multiplicity of densely patterned planes. Some parts of the paintings appear as cross-sections, as if exteriors have been cut away to give a maximum view of inner processes. Several paintings feature a central curvature with internally divided atriums, perhaps based in part on the structure of the heart’s ventricles. The overall effect is more painterly than diagrammatic – Farquhar’s works are mongrels of art history that freely draw on the conventions of portraiture, the flat patterning of Synthetism, and strong lurid colours of Fauvism.

A Holotype Heart sees the introduction of crude, geometric objects cast in pigmented plaster and encaustic that sit atop the frames in certain paintings, like primitive crowns or adornments. The texture and colour of these forms echo recurring signs within Farquhar’s painterly vocabulary, and also serve to deepen the curious sense of the archaeological or arcane; it is as if both paintings and objects could have been exhumed, relics of an ancient, alien civilisation.

* Stanislaw Lem, Imaginary Magnitude (trans. Marc E. Heine), 1984, p.175

Folded Eyes

Folded Eyes, 2017
Hopkinson Mossman, Auckland

Lalara, 2017
oil on linen
1000 x 800mm

Karl, 2017
oil on linen
600 x 600mm

Pleer, 2017
oil on linen
1200 x 1200mm

Fay, 2017
oil on linen
500 x 500mm

Ain, 2017
oil on linen
500 x 500mm

Juy, 2017
oil on linen
500 x 500mm

Fer-Vaa, 2017
oil on linen
1200 x 1000mm

Loysadoy, 2017
oil on linen
1500 x 1300mm

The salt in the small bowl looks up at me
with all its little glittering eyes and says:
I am the dry sea.
Your body tastes of me.*

The subjects of Farquhar’s portraits are abstractly yet undeniably female; mysterious hybrids of art history, science, and science-fiction. Her paintings follow the compositional conventions of portraiture – head-and-shoulders against a symbolic backdrop – but instead of human features, Farquhar’s sitters are dynamic beings composed of forms that resemble, variously, cellular structures, decorative floral, and crude angular modernism.

Farquhar’s images are built up from layers of marks and simple shapes foundational to both science and painting. The artist writes of her interest in “the correlation between making a body in paint, and the method by which all biological bodies establish their form; at the beginning of life a common basic geometry – circles, cylinders, dots, lines – develops during the embryonic phase and rapidly evolves into differing complex bodies.” The notion of a divergent evolution, with seemingly endless possibilities, is manifest in paintings that are markedly different from one another: Loysadoy’s strands of colour elongate, moving harmoniously around the surface, and the figure is calm, almost stoic; in Lalara thick impasto brushstrokes and globules build into intensely worked patterns in lush green, and lurid, almost-toxic orange; in Karl pretty pinks and royal blues sit harmoniously in delicate filigree.

In Folded Eyes the body is pictured in varying states of flux, subject to a myriad of invisible forces. The meeting points between body and environment (eyes, mouths, noses) are represented as intense sites of exchange, often densely worked in whirling impasto or jagged jungly forms. Some figures appear to have developed advanced camouflage to mimic elements of their environment, in others multiple mutations have resulted in radiant auras and tentacle-like filaments. In Farquhar’s imaginative system the body is not distinct from nature, rather it is an active biological form composed of the same mutable, malleable components.

* Ursula Le Guin, ‘Salt’, from Late in the Day: Selected Poems 2010-2014