Monday, August 28, 2023

Amanda Farber: DRAFT HORSE, 2023 at Oolong Gallery

 by Vallo Riberto

Aesthetics and quality; How do we come to recognize quality? Is it as simple as choosing the things we like?

Why is quality important in works of art?  Some art works are made in a way that disparages the very idea of quality.  But these same works are sought after and command high prices,  so much so, that such amounts by definition connote a sense of quality. Fashion and taste are indeed fickle!  

Draft Horse by Amanda Farber, 2023 is a large, painted, shaped, wall relief. I call it a relief because it projects out from the wall with a fairly substantial dimension. Draft Horse is a stylized abstraction but with easily identifiable, representational elements, and therein lies its beauty, mystique, commanding presence and power. 

The work’s gestural stance expresses strength and exertion, the sway of the back, the bend of the knees, and the way the large hooves are planted firmly on the ground plane. The bend of the neck and the position of the horse’s head all contribute to the animals effort, straining at its heavy load.  There’s definitely a disconnect between the figure's obvious, expressive gesture and the actual, physical shape of the figure.  This is a draft horse after all, a very powerful animal, a Clydesdale, Shire, Percheron maybe? Ms. Farber has depicted a Belgian Draught, the strongest horse breed in the world.  But what we’re confronted with is a skinny, loopy, spaghetti like creature. The kind of cartoon figure you may have seen in an early Disney Cartoon like Steamboat Willie or Gallopin’ Gaucho, wherein the character’s arms and legs would often become extended to accomplish an impossible feat!

The entire girth of Ms. Faber’s draft horse is only a few inches thick in any one direction, but oh, those hooves!  A very different matter all-together!

Again, I’m reminded of old Disney cartoons where the hooves of an old horse are exaggerated for comedic effect.  Despite the curving skinny structure, devoid of the faintest sense of musculature, Draft Horse is rife with animated, gestural power and strength. This work has real presence and commands our attention, the kind of attention that draws the viewer in closer, to inspect details or to question methods and applications.

Silly, abstract, irrational, beautiful, representational, a bouillabaisse of wonderful contradictions! Draft Horse may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it’s a lovely cup all the same, and intelligently concocted with quality ingredients that any discerning viewer can appreciate. 

If you can, make the time to get over to Oolong gallery located right on highway 101 in Solana Beach.

Cool School (Trane of Thought) until Oct 7, 2023
Farber, Bey, Madoo, Rabinowitz
Oolong Gallery
349 North Coast Highway, 101 Solana Beach, Ca 92075


Vallo Riberto is the Alliance Studio Visit Program Chair, a support group of the Oceanside Art Museum. He is an Independent curator, Oceanside Museum of Art, and the Bonita Museum of Art and Culture, the Zone Contemporary Art Gallery, Osaka, Japan and is on the Exhibition Advisory Committee, San Diego Public Library Gallery 619.603.2214

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