As a consequence of growing up in Bayonne, Jim Farmer has always had access to myriad cultural opportunities in New Jersey and New York. Over the years, this proximity helped foster and focus his multifaceted interests in painting, drawing, music, and playwriting. While immersed in the SoHo art scene of the 1970s, Farmer secured a job scoring commercial advertisements, which provided the financial stability necessary to continue his many other creative pursuits. Later, Farmer wrote, produced, and directed a number of plays, one of which debuted at the New York Fringe Festival. Among all his talents, the artist confesses that painting and drawing have been his most intense passions. Recently, Farmer has dedicated nearly all his time and attention to developing his painting practice at his studio in the bucolic environs of Connecticut.
Among his recent paintings—now on view at Gallery 104’s booth at the 1stdibs Design Center—is Botanically Yours from 2017. In this dynamic painting, Farmer draws inspiration from 20th-century Expressionist painters in order to create a work that is uniquely his own. The most striking formal features include frenetic brushwork, scrawled lines, and streaks of soft blue, red, and yellow. Across the composition there is a repeating fan shape resembling plant-like structures. Farmer’s energetic use of line gives these botanical forms a sense of bursting or blooming. Upon close examination, one can detect faces and symbols interspersed throughout the thin layers of paint, as if concealing some sort of narrative that is comprised of glyphs and meant to be deciphered by the viewer. As well, there is a distinct zigzag pattern etched into the facture. The layering of materials and partially obscured symbols entice viewers to closely interrogate the image in order to tease out some sort of message. Coupled with this aspect, the title is a play on variations of the closing line in numerous forms of communication. As such, the painting might be read as one line in a larger visual correspondence over the past few years. This notion of correspondence is in keeping with Farmer’s rather frank, epistolary manner of exchange that he cultivates with admirers of his work. For instance, on his website, he greets visitors with the statement, “These are my results I present to you now.” This salutation is framed in such a way that spectators are conditioned to understand his paintings as letters between creator and interlocutor, each containing a cryptic message to be decoded.
Jim Farmer, Botanically Yours, 2017. Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 x 1.5 inches.
To read more about Botanically Yours and Farmer’s other work, follow these links: 1stdibs exhibition and NYA Gallery. To view Farmer’s work in person, stop by the 1stdibs Design Center in Chelsea Monday through Friday between the hours of 10am and 6pm. To glimpse two of his most recent canvases, The Lost Child (2019) and In a Small Hotel Room in Paris (2019), come by NYA Gallery at 7 Franklin Place Monday through Sunday any time between 12-5pm.