The Everyday World, Re-imagined

The title of this deep-toned painting refers to the potted bunch of Primula auriculae (primroses) on the right. Still life is almost exclusively the theme of English painter Mary Fedden's works. Her pictures are, in the selective words of Mel Gooding, author of a popular book about her, "a kind of reinvention of known things remembered."

He also calls her work a "celebration of favorite things in known places" and observes that to her, "loved things are known not merely by sight but by heart."

Her motifs are often re-featured in freshly different arrangements: the distinctive auriculas - so oddly artificial in themselves - the sliced melon, the pears, all show up in other drawings and paintings. It is as if they started out as delighted, perceptual observations but became, after long scrutiny, embedded in her inner eye - visionary "figures" of a subjective art rather than of an objective reality.

Fedden does not confront objects on a table like a Czanne, painting them in an endless struggle with their appearance, contour, and mass. She explains her ideal as "more a world of imagination than actual fact ..." and says her "things are not trying to be more real, they are trying to be less real than they really are." For her, an object is "a starting point to make the picture that I want to make ..."

Another Fedden work, a richly light-and-dark drawing in soft pencil that has much in common with "Auriculas," similarly melding domestic objects with landscape, has the quality of intense, watery moonlight. The color in "Auriculas," if it does not suggest the lunar, still belongs to the outer space of a satisfying dream.

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