Ascaso Gallery, Miami // February 09, 2023 – March 17, 2023
Ascaso Gallery is pleased to announce Neonland, an exhibition of vibrant, raw and irreverent paintings by Fanny Brodar, opening February 9th. Born in Norway in 1971, Brodar grew up in New York watching Sesame Street and drawing on the floor of her bedroom, creating imaginary friends and made-up worlds that helped her deal with traumatic times in the real one.
Dreaming of becoming a children’s book illustrator, she earned a BFA in illustration from the Art Institute of Boston, but in the years that followed, her life took a different turn, including a long sojourn in Montana hanging out with cowboys and climbing mountains, and she stopped painting for almost two decades. Five years ago, having relocated to coastal Maine, she was given a secondhand easel, and rediscovered an urge to paint. In early 2020, as the pandemic closed in, she found an escape from the isolation and darkness by painting a series of bright canvases depicting “a euphoric tapestry, an otherworldly and magical place,” she recalls. “In many ways, I was reverting back to being a child drawing in my room.”
Inspired by the simplicity of childhood, as well as Philip Guston’s neo-expressionist figuration and Rose Wiley’s late-blooming career painting cartoonish takes on modern life, Brodar looks upon painting as a time for play and experimentation. Just as she did when she was 8, she tends to start out lying on the floor, drawing directly on the canvas before pinning it to a wall, working in scrawls of oil stick against fields of acrylic and spray paint. In reflecting her affection for time-honored favorites like Big Bird, vintage Mickey Mouse and Coca-Cola, and by utilizing theories of color psychology, she hopes to spark a warm glow of nostalgia in the minds of viewers, reconnecting them to happy memories of childhood from which they can draw strength and healing.
Neonland is an imaginary place reminiscent of her birthplace, Norway, where she says “the vast, isolated landscapes produce the most amazing light, and a sky full of stars and cosmic neon color.” While painting this series, she listened to the music of Norwegian organist Iver Kleive, especially his version of “Som den gyldne sol fremgryder,” or “Like the Golden Sun Ascending.” In many ways autobiographical, these paintings also include references to her adventures in the mountains amongst the cowboys and the wonderful desolation of wide-open western vistas, as well as the elation she now feels while beekeeping and pottering in her garden amongst the flowers.
Over the past year, Brodar has exploded onto the art scene, exhibiting her work in nine solo exhibitions in New York, Paris, Spain, Taiwan, Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul. She lives and works in Kennebunkport, Maine.
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