WATERCOLOR ARTIST FAHREN FEINGOLD: IN CONVERSATION WITH THE UNTITLED SPACE GALLERY’S INDIRA CESARINE
To simply proclaim watercolor artist Fahren Feingold's career as "on the rise" is an understatement. Since her pivotal debut to the art world with Nick Knight for Show Studio in London a few years ago, Feingold's career has gone from one powerful moment to the next.
The artist had her first solo show last November at The Untitled Space gallery in New York, under the keen guidance of its owner & founder, Indira Cesarine (herself a lauded artist and one of the leading female gallerist's – and champions of feminist art – anywhere). The two have since officially joined forces, with Cesarine's gallery becoming the home and sole representative of Feingold's artworks. Fahren Feingold's erotically charged watercolors have become extremely in demand pieces at The Untitled Space. The alluring, playful, and lithe multicolored brush strokes of the nude female form draw in devoted fans, buyers and a steadily growing following from across the globe – female as well as male.
Recently, Feingold collaborated with the "feminine, chic, and slightly subversive" luxury brand Fleur du Mal for an exclusive month-long art exhibition at the fashion brand's flagship and pop-up gallery on the Lower East Side, which featured some of the artist's fluid and exotic depictions of female nudity. The exhibition – originally intended to close in early July – has now be extended, due to popular demand, until July 30th, 2018.
Untitled owner and founder, Indira Cesarine sat down with Fahren Feingold for a conversation about the artist's work's, career highlights, and their powerhouse partnership.
Indira Cesarine: The body of work that you've been creating in the last year is just so powerful. When I look back to the first exhibit that we worked on – the LIFEFORCE exhibit at The Untitled Space in 2016 – I just loved your watercolors in that show! Your work since has gotten even stronger and more vivid.
Fahren Feingold: Yeah, that was a big turning point for me. That was right after working with Nick Knight for Show Studio in London and my first time showing in an art gallery. It really was a launching pad for my work here in the US.
Indira: I thank Kelsey and Remy Bennett for introducing me to your work! When I saw it, it just really resonated with me. It's very fresh, with beautiful colors and compositions. It has been great to continue collaborating. We had your solo show back in November 2017, which did really well, and the Peep Show pop-up with Fleur du Mal has been a great continuation. Your artwork resonates with male and female audiences, which is really unique considering the erotic content.
Fahren: Yeah it's been exciting for me! I didn't really know who the audience would be, and it's been men, women, and couples buying it. I haven't really gotten any pushback from people saying they're offended or that it is too provocative.
Indira: I feel like watercolor as a medium also lends itself to being very romantic and it would be very hard to be offended by almost any subject manner if it's done in watercolors! I think the softness of the color palette and the playful touches with your brushstroke lends itself to a very positive body of work. What is it that drew you to watercolors in the first place?
Fahren: I originally just wanted to start playing with it because I felt like there was a trend in art generally with watercolors. I thought why not marry watercolor with my nudes? Nudes are often so controversial. Whenever I used to draw nudes and do mixed media with them, everyone was like "Oh it's nice, but I don't really know if I want to put it in my home…" The watercolors are more approachable.
Indira: I'd love to see some of your early work and see how it compares. Maybe some of the early work will have a new audience because of the impact of your watercolors. What originally inspired you to paint erotic nudes?
Fahren: I've always been drawn to nudes. Since I was literally like fourteen I've been drawing nude models. When I was at Parson's studying, I would go to my teachers and ask, "So what can I do with this?", and their suggestions were, "You can draw sex manuals," and I was like, "That sounds terrible!" I don't want to draw sex manuals and honestly, how much of a career can you really get from that? That was one of the reasons why I went into fashion. When I came back to painting and drawing, I wanted to do so in a way that was fulfilling to me. I wanted to create an erotic expression of sexuality without being so formulated about it. It felt like the right time to do it now with feminism being so relevant. It's an expression of owning one's own sexuality and being in tune with your body.
Indira: What sort of message are you trying to convey with your depictions of women?
Fahren: I paint women I find on the internet, and they all look totally different: some of them are really curvy and some of them are extremely thin… It's just who inspires me. I'm not really looking at a certain type of body; I'm just finding an inspirational woman. Sometimes the shape is not so specific in the watercolors.
Indira: Do you find that your work has a feminist message?
Fahren: I do, but a modern feminist message that women are equal and should have a right to do whatever they want with their body and have ownership in the same way that men do.
Indira: In essence, you like to convey women who are empowered?
Fahren: Yeah! Sometimes I look at photos from the 70s and 80s and feel like maybe these women weren't fully aware of where these photos would end up, twenty, thirty, or forty years from when they took them. I feel like I'm giving a second life to those photos and those women.
Indira: What's interesting is that when you look back at vintage erotica, it's so fascinating that those images were considered so controversial at the time. In today's context, they wouldn't be considered controversial at all. They're actually rather wholesome and celebratory. I see a lot of feminist artists inspired by vintage erotica and I can understand why, since the images are often actually positive depictions of women.
Fahren: Yeah, I always wonder when they took those, "Did they tell their families?", "Was it a secret?" I think of what they were thinking when they took those photos.
Indira: It was also just such a taboo to be nude at that time.
Fahren: Exactly. I think about the early 1900's, and all those French nude photographs. Those were quite taboo images, yet they were so free in those photos and hardly posing at all. They were just having fun because it was so experimental at the time. Those were amazing!
Indira: What do you have coming up next? I know that the Peep Show pop-up with Fleur du Mal is now extended through July 30th, which is exciting. Can you share any other upcoming projects?
Fahren: I have a collaboration launching soon with Bijules, the jewelry line, for a summer pop up in New York City. I also have some other exciting projects coming up that we're not at the liberty to speak about yet.
Indira: Yeah, I've heard a little bit of buzz that you might be exhibiting at Art Basel Miami, but I guess we might have to wait to announce that when we have more information!
Fahren: Yeah, exactly! I love working with The Untitled Space and I look forward to many more future projects. Hopefully, we can do some new, exciting things, maybe even some big paintings as well as collaborations with other artists. Looking forward to new exciting things in the future.