Julie Farstad's paintings and works on paper at Zolla-Lieberman Gallery represent a distinct advance over the works she showed at her last exhibition there, in 2003. Both groups of works use the iconography of dolls, but the earlier pieces had dolls imitate behavior of lascivious nature that seemed to require shame on the part of its viewers. This, it semmed to me, was beside the point of the artist's feminist agenda, and the new work is all the better for largely eliminating what the gallery statement once called "an agitated current of shame and humiliation."
A few pieces still have dolls disporting like wanton adults, and they continue to disturb because the dolls are stand-ins for infants and infancy no longer is being seen as innocent. But, in general, Farstad sounds more than just that one note, partly by creating a more fully realized world for the dolls instead of just locating them on fields of bright uninflected color. Now they occupy landscapes created from other toys that help give a more rounded sense of childhood fantasy.
Her style is still hyper-realistic, indebted to photography. However, it has gained in interest because of the different textures and shifts in scale of the elements that form the landscapes. The materials found in the pictures range from paper to satin, clay and plaster, with Farstad rendering all of them persuasively. Nowadays that doesn't seem to count for much, though her technical ability will to some hold attention more strongly than the "ideas" that take shape from her implied narratives.
Alan Artner - 2007