Fran Forman describes her work as photo paintings, and her method of creating work is much like a traditional collage artist. Forman works with digital photographic images and creates scenes, environments, and one could argue realities, which are not found in real life. In her introduction to the book, noted curator Paula Tognarelli writes: “Through metaphor, references to art and social history, classical mythology, as well as her empathic heart, Fran articulates themes of freedom, migration, and the concept of hope. Her characters are transported from one dimension to another, whether it be in time, place, or circumstance. Some characters are culled from the animal kingdom, the pages of literature, and even the museum wall. The bird cage, for example, shows itself in many of Forman’s images as if she is in conversation with her muse, René Magritte.”
The images featured in The Rest Between Two Notes are presented thematically throughout the book. These themes could be broadly interpreted, but easily could fall into catagories such as allegory, folklore, portraits, portals and passages, architecture, landscapes, internal psychological reflection, or whimsical fantasy. Forman’s scenes are rich in color, dramatized, saturated, theatrical, and struck me as an amalgam of paintings from the Italian renaissance cum Joyce Tennyson cum David Lynch. The physicality of the book is also notable; printed end sheets of a warm toned, golden hued pattern reminiscent of Victorian wallpaper, and when the book is closed, the cranberry colored edges of the pages remind me of a slice of red velvet cake.
If ever there was a time for me to relinquish judgement based on style and embrace images which are largely based on fantasy – it is now. Case in point: an image of a three story giraffe standing in a cavernous interior space, reminiscent of ruin porn photography, lit from various mystery light sources, while a figure plays a trombone on the mezzanine level. That feels right. My reluctance evaporates.
Throughout the book, text accompanies Forman’s images. Some of these ‘conversations’ are short poetic pieces which compliment the work, some are an interpretation and exploration of specific images. These texts are written by over two dozen artists, writer, poets, curators, photographers, and various people connected with visual arts in some form or another. I was struck by a short piece written by Sara Farazan, which accompanies an image titled ‘The Last Rhino.’ Farazan writes a dystopian vignette which involves the inner strength of a young girl, loss of technology, hardship, climate ruin, and quite possibly the last living rhinoceros.
After my initially having a response to Forman’s work that was passive, revisiting the work revealed an appeal which I had not considered. She is a visual chanteuse, and this is where Forman’s strength lies. The additive nature of conjuring a reality from various visual sources, and masterfully blending them into works of art is dreamlike and evocative. Her intuitive visual stories are arresting. The Rest Between Two Notes lends itself well to the lyrical and musical metaphor that there is just as much importance to the silence as there is to the notes played or sung. Or in Forman’s case, the color or hue added to a visual void.
The Rest Between Two Notes: Selected works by Fran Forman
Unicorn Publishing Group
Hardcover: 224 pages, 105 color plates
Product Dimensions: 25.4 x 25.4 cm
About Fran Forman:
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Forman studied art and sociology as an undergraduate at Brandeis University and then received an MSW, working for several years with heroin addicts. She earned an MFA from Boston University in graphic design, but spent most of her grad school years experimenting in the darkroom. She is represented by Pucker Gallery (Boston), Afterimage Gallery (Dallas), Susan Spiritus Gallery (Newport Beach, CA), and Galeria Photo/Graphica (San Miguel de Allende, Mexico). For more information, go to: www.franforman.com.
Also published on Medium.