Drawing from sources ranging from fashion magazines, Asian decorative arts, vintage fabric patterns and her own wistful memories of the past, Mari Eastman makes paintings that, whether imposingly large or scaled to the size of a magazine page, have an off-hand intimacy that is more typically associated with drawing. Regardless of size, Eastman’s images call attention to the complex allure of surface beauty, especially as it is expressed in fashion, which has the power to transform our bodies into walking works of art that speak to who we are (or, in the case of vintage fashion, who we once were), how we see ourselves, and who we long to be. Eastman’s fascination with fashion lies not only in an interest in trends or the trappings of wealth, but also in fashion’s timeless ability to function as a repository of historical, cultural and social memory–and of course, as a rich source of inspiration for painting.
Solo exhibition forthcoming November 2021
I am half Japanese, and I grew up in Asia (Singapore, then Japan) surrounded by ceramics, carpets, carved furniture, and animals from Bali. My mom is a huge enthusiast of decorative arts and would take us to all sorts of places so that she could buy woven textiles and other artifacts … I remember when I was six or seven and sat at the dinner table across from a hanging indigo blue Chinese carpet depicting a deer under a tree with a crane flying above. Actually they still have it. It’s amazing. I guess that’s where the decorative elements stem from.”
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