COLE, Darlene

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Childhood, a reoccurring theme in Darlene Cole’s work, is represented by prepubescent girls and boys, engaged in some type of action. Without adult supervision, these activities confer on Cole’s children an adult-like aura, empowering them. The artist cites Neil Postman’s 1982 book about the decline in innocence in American culture The Disappearance of Childhood as a text that informs her work. In it, Postman argues that communications technology, such as the invention of the television and, later, the Internet contributed to children losing their innocence, thus transforming them into young adults.

A source of inspiration for Cole are the works of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of English painters, poets and critics, founded in 1848. They studied nature attentively, employed vivid colours and depicted unconvential-looking women. Just like in Pre-Raphaelite works, the girls in Cole’s paintings embody enigma, distance and beauty.

The past in general is a great source of inspiration for the artist. Cole’s cottage, or ‘artist’s retreat’ as she calls it, was built at the beginning of the 20th century. Because she kept all of the original furniture and linens intact, the cottage, located on the side of a lake, seems to belong to the past.

Nature, another omnipresent theme in Cole’s work, is in numerous works represented by flowers, such as pink David Austin roses, peonies and magnolias. Cole paints flowers from life, either buying them from a florist near her house in Brooklin, Ontario, or traveling to nearby farms for blossoming trees.

Overall, Cole’s works are defined by beauty and mystery, the dream-like quality of the translucent oil colours contributing the haunting nature of the scenes.

– Eliana Stratica-Mihail

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