What, When, Where: Flights of Fantasy

November 28, 2011

By Debbie Hagan

Much has happened to artist Fran Forman since I first spotted her collages at the AD 20/21 art and design show in Boston last March. She participated in the fair to gain a little more exposure. Since then, I’ve received notices of her awards and exhibitions not just in New England, but in Europe and China. Giving her another big boost, Jason Landry at Boston’s Panopticon Gallery fell in love with her work and added her to his stable of artists. There, Forman appeared in a group show over the summer. This Friday, December 2, a solo exhibit of Forman’s work opens at Sohn Fine Art Gallery in Stockbridge, Mass., which will be up until March 5, 2012.

Rarely do an artist’s images stop me in my in my tracks and then hum in my memory for months; yet that’s exactly how I reacted on seeing Forman’s assemblages. She melds old tintypes and carte de visite images with painting, new technology and surrealistic landscapes. You’re never quite sure if you’re traveling backward or forward in time or to some place detached from this planet; in any event, the journey is so unexpected, so strangely delightful, that you really want to go along for the ride.

If memory serves, the first of Forman’s pieces I saw was Over Truro’s Pond, an antique photograph of a young boy wearing butterfly wings who appears to take flight over a pond, his image reflected in a pool of water as bright as burnished gold. One might wonder if this boy is trying out his own wings–a metaphor for entering adulthood–and yet, by the expression on his face, one senses he’s experiencing the loneliness and singularity that inevitably accompany such a moment.

Over Truro’s Pond, 2009

Each image poses so many narratives and intriguing possibilities. That’s why it’s hard for me to stop looking at and thinking about them. Rather than just being an artist who is fascinated with Photoshop tools or tinkering with strange juxtapositions of old and new, Forman takes viewers on a more complex psychological journey. Likely this comes from her background as a social worker–her career before she obtained an MFA from Boston University’s School of Fine Arts and began working as an illustrator, graphic designer and fine artist.

Swan Woman, 2010

The pieces exhibited at Sohn Fine Art come from her series, “Brief Suspensions, Defying Gravity.† In describing this work Forman says, “In dreams and memories we exist in a world of suspended gravity, beliefs and animation. We conjure and re-imagine relationships of scale and physical possibility, while violating the laws of physics.â€

Escape Over Siena, 2007

Each photographic collage is a limited edition print on archival cotton rag paper with colorfast pigmented inks.

Cosmic Aria, 2009

Forman’s work will be shown again at AD 20/21, March 15–18, 2012, as part of Panopticon Gallery’s exhibit.

Solitary Bird, 2009

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