Robust Exploration and Expression
By Richard Malinsky, Arts Editor
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Frances Ferdinands’s paintings are known for their richly saturated color, patterned compositions, and exploratory vision. She is inspired by nature, emotions, and events in her daily life mixed with social concerns and a strong sense of cultural identity. As an artist born in Sri Lanka and now living and working in Canada, she speaks of her work as “articulating issues as I see it from this unique perspective, somewhere between the latitudes of Colombo and Toronto.”
Her website is organized thematically by series, such as Between Latitudes, Mining Beauty, and Abstracts. The most recent work appears first.
Ferdinands is a highly versatile artist, and her works run the gamut from the abstract to the more illustrative, as in the Tropicals & Beyond series, and even the surreal in her War series, where her dreamlike scenes symbolize her reactions to these conflicts, from the more specific of Japanese internment camps to how current global escalations can infiltrate our daily lives via television. Stylistically, each series is not necessarily a chronological linear progression. Rather, her work is a collection of creative pathways for her robust exploration and expression.
Ferdinands also forays into the three-dimensional work as in her series Between Latitudes. Mostly this series comprises the more illustrative—understated yet elegant acrylics reminiscent of drawing—but there’s also “109: The Domestic and the Divine,” an installation featuring 109 varied suspended embroidered hoops with the lotus design embroidered onto vintage doilies. Around the perimeters a phrase is repeated like a mantra. This is of course a very tactile work, one she believes “reminds us of our humanness.”
Her series Mining Beauty draws its inspiration from feminine beauty, fashion, and her own personal experiences with various source materials and objects. She describes herself as “collecting and combining remembrances of feelings and occurrences.”
Another tactile work, “Vestments,” is composed of clothing patterns, fabric, and the suggestion of sewing-box contents: pins, needles and measuring tape. The warm saturated color resonates of fond memories from an earlier time. This work metaphorically weaves a fabric that links her childhood with the present.
Abstracts is a surprising complete shift in style—deviating from the more illustrative, this series embodies elements of chance and improvisation that challenge her otherwise more traditional approach to the canvas. While other series may be imbued with her South Asian heritage, rooted in the cultural and social fabric of the region, here that hybrid of influences is punctuated with her own personal associations as a Sri Lankan Canadian. The “Totems” paintings celebrate the grandeur of the grand ancient pine trees of her new country. “Totem #3” illustrates her use of color as form, gesture, and the use of gels and pastes for texture.
All in all, this versatility proves an inspiring and rewarding tour de force of an artist’s website.
Frances Ferdinands has exhibited her work for over three decades in group and solo exhibitions in Paris, Bogota, Honolulu, the continental United States and Canada. She is represented in numerous public and private collections.
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Beautifully written review inspires me to see more of her work. Incredible the breadth and diversity shown.
Thanks so much for your kind words Melanie. We feel Frances is an artist that deserves attention and recognition beyond her already significant accomplishments. I hope you visit her website and enjoy more of her work.