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Art New England Logo: January-February 2011, Volume 32, Issue 1

Reviews: Massachusetts



Thompson Gallery, Cambridge School of Weston Weston, MA December 10-March 19, 2011




ran Forman is a surrealist photographer who uses the latest computer technology to create digital collages of fantasy, dreams, and memory. She combines past and present in eerie configurations of dark psychological mysteries.


Picture: Flying Boy Over Truro's Pond, Copywrited Fran Forman 2009Forman's photo collages exhibit a painterly texture with subtle manifestations of color. Often the nineteenth- and twenty-first centuries meet in appropriated tintype or carte de visite images juxtaposed against contemporary landscapes or interiors. Her models range from an Italian portal to ornithological representations. Recurring images of birds and boats signify journeys, partings, and reunions.


In Letting Go, an open window in San Gimignano supplies the frame for the image of a girl holding a broken egg while two doves fly away from her. The artist creates a fantasy world while simultaneously referring to her experience with her own daughters, releasing them to the real world outside the sheltered portal. The image speaks of freedom, but also of loss.


In The Secret Gift, a young woman in a nineteenth-century ruffled dress hides her eyes while a boy from the same period holds a gift with outstretched hands. In both figures the arms and hands of a model have been added to the tintype figures while the background contains trees with a sepia tonality, again suggesting past techniques.


Another nostalgic image occurs in Over Truro's Pond in which an antique photograph of a young boy wearing butterfly wings hovers over a pond, where his image is palely reflected in the foreground's golden water. There is a sense that this boy is trying out his wings, becoming an individual with its associated loneliness and singularity. The naturalist landscape is exquisitely rendered, melding the imaginary with the real.


One of the most haunting photo collages, At the Edge of the Pond, combines tintypes of an African-American family. The dignity and formality of former slaves is compelling and memorable.


This is a photographer in whose work past and present, fantasy and reality, creates an extraordinary world where modern digital techniques transform emotion, memory, and nostalgia into an impressive oeuvre.


—Alicia Faxon


3 pictures: Letting Go, The Secret Gift, and At the Edge of the Pond