Gregory Ferrand, The Engagement, 2016

The scene is set in an American living room circa 1950’s, where friends are celebrating a couple’s engagement. The bride-to-be is showing off her new diamond while the groom-to-be convivially embraces a friend on the right. The happiness of the orange figures is offset by the blueness of the sidelined couple at center. The painting of a ship on a stormy sea over the mantel suggests that the couple below it is going through hard times in their own marriage. The sad husband dons a tie with a jumping fish snagged by a fishing line, while the happy groom-to-be sports a tie with a duck taking flight over a marsh. On the mantel we see figurines of pheasants and a Pointer dog, alluding to more hunting analogies.
Ferrand writes that his paintings don’t have specific stories, but rather they “are based on emotions and are my attempt to transmit those emotions to and connect with the viewer. I’ve found that if I provide a specific story for a painting I have less of a chance to create that connection with the viewer, it just limits the possibilities for them identify with it in some way. All of the details are there to help them build their own story drawing on their own life experience. I think of them as ‘breadcrumbs.’”

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