New Artist! A vibrant "Studio View" from painter Mary Finlayson

20x200, November 10, 2020
It doesn’t quite feel like it in NYC today (70 degrees??), but cozy season’s quick approaching, and with it our annual urge to nest with the best of them. Even several months of social distancing can’t put the kibosh on our love for the great indoors, thanks to … you guessed it! ... a steady stream of amazing art. Mary Finlayson’s new Studio Viewunquestionably qualifies as just the sort of frame-able ambiance maker we’re in the market for this fall. More than that, the San Francisco-based artist’s debut 20x200 edition actually spotlights an interior space. It’s a sumptuous still life that animates any room, but it also serves as a reminder to appreciate our surroundings, to consider the cushy corners, curated bookshelves, and little nooks and crannies that give our homes personality—pillows, potted plants, prints hanging on the wall and all.

Inspired by artists like Hockney and Matisse, Finlayson (@paintedmary on IG) infuses her work with a bright palette, linear patterns, and stylized objects. Her graphic, blocky forms, tight layering, topsy-turvey lines, and extra flat perspective bring an energy all her own. That perspective and its lack of visual depth puts every object and plane pictured on an even playing field. The tableau as a whole takes precedence, while the emphasis lands on lines, color, form. Studio View is packed with plants, whose repeating vasculature gives the artist another opportunity to play with line and pattern. The textiles she’s painted (pillow, throw, rug) offer even more of that. There’s a richly layered effect overall, vessels and stands behind or atop various surfaces, stratums of foliage, overlapping furnishings—all vividly hued.

Looking at Studio View, it’s impossible not to search the still life for clues as to who set up this curated space, to ponder the painter’s personal relationship to it. In part, that’s because what’s being represented here is more than a physical space—it’s a feeling. In place of shadow, Finlayson’s given preference to pink and blue outlines that add a sort of electricity, a warm vibration that imbues the whole image. Those outlines define bold, super saturated shapes. A number of those shapes are painted slightly askew, doing a little dance. Both techniques help Finlayson bring these inanimate objects to life. This goes beyond reality. Her vibrant colors and spirited linework tap into the experience and emotion of place, how a place exists in your memories, elevating the ordinary fixtures of everyday interior life to poetic phrases. Together, they impart an otherwise intimate story of a space.

In a referential meta way, hanging Studio View on your wall might inspire you to think more about your own at-home environs, the ongoing conversation between you and the things you choose to surround yourself, the happiness (and control!) you have the power to harness through some simple, considered decisions in setting up your personal space. And if you need a place to start, you know we always suggest art.