Review: Fran Forman — AfterImage Gallery

[Originally published in The Dallas Morning News]

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Fran Forman’s work has been shown in places as diverse as Paris, Shanghai, New York and her native Massachusetts. Her exhibition at AfterImage Gallery demonstrates why she has drawn international attention. Forman has a formidable bag of technological tricks, and she deploys her talent for manipulating vintage and new images in ways more nuanced than is customary.

Oftentimes, technique, usually the ubiquitous Photoshop tool, thunderously steals the show while art takes a back seat to keyboard virtuosity. Forman is an exception. Her images invoke dreamlike imagery, swapped chronology and specifics that include water, wings, casements, architecture, sky, landscape and costume.

Boy and a Knight is a case in point. It’s reminiscent of the lavish elements of a child’s book of Arthurian legends. It features a boy in clothing of the early 1900s; he stares placidly into an undisclosed vista while a knight on horseback, sporting a jousting lance and black-and-white kit, moves behind him.

The various elements are deftly insinuated into a dreamy landscape that creates a narrative begging to be unraveled. One interpretation, among many, is that the knight is a character from a book the boy has been reading. His imaginative life circles his literal presence. Consequently, Forman shows us how our psyches operate while simultaneously making us privy to a bygone world. Sky, grass and figures dreamily meet in a well-contrived high-tech interlude.

Two Portraits is a mashup of Renaissance painting meets iPhone, in a glorious abundance of gold, orange and black. A woman sports both period jewelry and an ear bud — brilliant. A brightly colored bird perches on an ornate frame, and its twin image appears on the screen of the cellphone. Roman numerals look as if they’re embossed above the portrait — MMXI or 2011, the date the work was created. A building shot in the Spanish town of Seville peeks out from the background, creating a confluence of nature, architecture, regalia and perhaps a tweeted message.

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