Spring Awakening: Freya Douglas-Morris’ ‘Mid-March Melody’ at Lehmann Maupin

Blossom, 2024.

© Freya Douglas-Morris. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Seoul, and London.

Though it might not feel like it just yet, Spring is here. We’re in that liminal space where the feelings of winter are still lingering, but the promise of Spring is on the horizon. It’s like that Nerruda quote: “You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.” And that is the sentiment of Freya Douglas-Morris’ Mid-March Melody. On view now at Lehmann Maupin in London, the exhibition is a meditation on the beauty of nature as it cycles from season to season.

Known for her delicate landscapes inspired by Douglas-Morris’ own relationship with nature, Mid-March Melody is a lesson in world-building. Painted from inside her studio, the lush landscapes examine the ways in which the beauty—and soul—of the environment extends past physical location. The rolling hills and blossoming trees in “Blossom,” the largest work in the exhibition, are at the same time familiar and universal: they could be cherry blossoms in Japan, sprouting trees in Central Park, or the view from Douglas-Morris’ childhood home—the truth of which doesn’t matter. It’s the feeling that nature provides that comes through in each painting.

Lily, 2024. © Freya Douglas-Morris.
Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York, Seoul, and London.

In “Lily,” we see a glistening pond lined by brush in the distance. The bushes are dotted with flickering blossoms—another reminder that Spring is a time of growth—and trees glow in the distance. In this series, Douglas-Morris employs a sheer wash technique that makes the landscapes, though rendered in oil, appear like watercolor. It’s this kind of mastery of her material that gives Mid-March Melody its power.

In reality, the Mid-March Melody landscapes are amalgamations of places the artist has been, inspired by “locations [she’s] visited, particular feelings, even qualities of light,” and imaginary settings, giving space to the viewer to experience the works through their own lens. These painted scenes are “felt places,” as she refers to them. The goal, to “[remind] us of our own connection to the natural world and the inner worlds we carry within—the ones we take with us wherever we go,” she says.

It’s a poetic reminder of our relationship with nature. These days, we talk a lot about the effect of humans on the environment: rising temperatures, melting polar ice caps, ever-growing carbon footprints… But Mid-March Melody is an ode to the impact of nature—on us, our memories, and emotions.

‘Mid-March Melody’ is on view through April 20, 2024 at Lehman Maupin in London.