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Winter is the perfect time to rediscover the magic of heaven and earth. Pucker Gallery in Boston is playing host to a special wonderland with their current show, featuring the divine photomontages of Fran Forman and earthy ceramics of Jan Kollwitz, on view through January 4, 2015. These two artists share surprising similarities in their use of layered textures and warm palettes, despite their very different media of expression. It creates a sumptuous feast for the eyes.
Kollwitz’s earth-toned ceramics are staged throughout the gallery, with Forman’s mystical photographic collages taking flight above them. Forman’s pieces imagine the skies above, while Kollwitz’s work embraces the earth beneath our feet. The interplay is lovely and sensual. With a special passion for photography, I was drawn to this show by the “Enchanted Constructions” of Fran Forman and will address her work solely here.
Forman’s photographic collages are layered in both meaning and construction, which she accomplishes by deftly assembling her collection of found archival and self-originated pictures in Photoshop. Her scenes are at once expansive – flirting with imagery of flight and other means of escape – and intimate. The warm, vibrant hues, textured overlays and the smaller size of her work, especially compared to many today, invite close inspection.
While her formats vary, the fairly uniform scale of Forman’s imagery provides a cohesive foundation for work inhabited by an intriguing cast of animals and people. Ranging from the 8”x 10” “Portrait with Red Velvet (2014)” to the 29”x 36” “Carousel Escape (2012)”, most hover under 16”x 20”. I especially favor Forman’s square formatted images, which encourage my eye to wander more freely in every direction.
And I want to look in every direction because there’s so much to explore. Every tableau is another foray into a world of intrepid wanderings and imaginative flights. Forman establishes atmosphere through her nuanced handling of color and composition, shadow and light. Employing universal symbols like water, orbs, entryways and windows, birds, feathers and her hallmark floating or flying bodies, Forman conjures dreamy, suggestive narratives.
But hers are no nursery stories. There are plenty of foreboding skies, lurking animals and confining enclosures portending menace. It is this underlying tension that provides Forman’s fanciful imagery with very adult themes: rising above adversity, conquering fears and escaping hazards both mundane and exotic. Thus, her montages can feel ominous or emancipating, depending on how you look at them. And therein lies Forman’s true power of enchantment.
For more information about this exhibit, go to: http://www.puckergallery.com/index1.html
To view more of Fran Forman’s work, go to: http://www.franforman.com/Site/home.html
To view Jan Kollwitz’s work, go to: http://www.jankollwitz.de/english/a_home/a_1.html
Feature Image: “Carousel Escape, 2012” archival pigment print by Fran Forman (courtesy of the artist and Pucker Gallery, Boston)