Ferdinands’ work reminded me of curry, in its rich color palette, or textiles, in her patterns and details. Reds, yellows and orange are dominant creating a very, very vibrant atmosphere. I had the good fortune to be able to meet Frances Ferdinands at the opening of her show ‘Convergence’ and have her explain a little about her work, and why she chose this title.
What interests me most about Frances and her work is the thought process that her paintings reflect. This richness might be a result of her background, her heritage and more importantly her journey. She came to Canada from Sri Lanka aboard a ship, when she was very young and as a result her memories of this journey and the life she left behind are somewhat fragmented. Perhaps her artwork demonstrates this, drawing on abstract expressionism to display the hybridization that has come to define her identity as a Canadian South Asian.
Hybridization is an important term in analyzing Ferdinand’s work. Several motifs such as paisley and fabric demonstrate this hybridization, mixture of cultures, as we can see influences that are borrowed and integrated. Paisley itself has such a rich history that it is perfect to symbolize Ferdinand’s own journey from the East to the West, a convergence of sorts, in terms of culture and influences. Therefore it is accurate to say that ‘Convergence’ is about a journey, both literally and metaphorically. This journey is a realization of a fragmented past and coming to terms with it through her artwork. These paintings are very different from Ferdinands’ previous work that was mainly representational.
An interesting aspect of Convergence is the fact that these pieces were created in a vacuum, as Ferdinands said it herself. She was moving away, drastically, from what she was known for, what she was comfortable with, thus adding to her own personal anxiety and uncertainty. What we can see of it in the show is a truly marvelous artistic journey, both in its context and visually.
*Exhibition dates: October 15 – 27, 2013, Propeller Centre for the Visual Arts, 984 Queen Street West. Gallery hours: Wed – Sat 12 – 6, Sun 12 – 5 p.m.