Thursday, March 15, 2012

Ursula O'Farrell

"Letting Go" - 48"x 60 - oil on panel
My art review repost of July 2011 show

Local gem, Craighead Green Gallery is a must see in the Dallas Design District. On a recent visit to the gallery to view the latest show, California artist UrsulaO'Farrell commanded my attention.

O’Farrell’s work reminds me of the Bay Area Figurative artists Elmer Bischoff and DavidPark, because they “infuse thick texture with unusually emotional color harmonies.”Or send yourself further back from the 1950’s to the 1890’s Impressionist, becauseO’Farrell’s blurred figures use similar rich narrative and like Mary Cassatt, “themesof female relationships” as a focus.

I also observe highlights to Abstract Expressionist art. O’Farrell seems to dance acrossthe canvas with her brush, leaving marks of emotionally charged paint. You can justfeel the layers of paint worked over until a purposeful image appears. Thankfully,the heavy-handed machismo of the heroic painters has been dropped for asmaller canvas, perfect for her type of personal story telling. O’Farrell’s approachallows the viewer to enter the conversation. You don’t feel as if you’re a voyeur,but you are a participant in an unfolding story.

The work, “Letting Go,” centers on a theme of loss, yet her vivid colors, dancing,and broad strokes declare a sense of hope. O’Farrell’s distinct layering of characters, and abundant use of paint, exemplifies classic Abstract Expressionism. However, I believe O’Farrell’s palette choice, and her rejection of the Modernist tendency to flattenan image, to be an innovative approach. “Letting Go,” shows 2 pairs of women,each holding hands. Their conversation is silent, reverent. O’Farrell wants us to see our own stories of loss and our spiritual connections to one another. The blurred figures help us to easily exchange her characters with people we know. This feeling of shared experience only heightens an already emotional painterly piece.

Ursula O’Farrell studied in Italy and has exhibited in the Florence Biennial. No doubt, this experience had a great influence on her work. Ursula O’Farrell received her BFA from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and her MFA at San Jose State University. She has shown extensively in California and Texas. O’Farrell’s new work will be available to view through July 2nd at Craighead Green Gallery.
For more images of O'Farrell's work go to

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