Fran Gallun at Fleisher: How far is heaven?


Fran Gallun
Fran Gallun, detail of “Earth and Sky”, Gouache with Painted Paper Collage, 2008

The movies and television have had an effect on us that’s so insidious that at times we’re not even aware of how it changes our vision.

Fran Gallun‘s wonderful Faculty Fellowship Exhibit, Reflections on Landscape, in the Christian Street bulding of Fleisher Art Memorial, is proof positive of the influence of those media, although I don’t think they are primarily what my friend Fran had in mind.

Fran Gallun, "Sunset Clouds: Loop", Oil with Painted Paper Collage, 2008
Fran Gallun, “Sunset Clouds: Loop”, Oil with Painted Paper Collage, 2008

But maybe she did have an inkling, because she named one of the pieces Sunset Clouds: Loop, which surely suggests film and video.

The exhibit’s recent work is mostly collaged–painted paper collage on acrylic or on oil or on gouache, collaged prints–but the exhibit includes some small playful sculptures of aluminum flashing as well as some earlier landscape drawings.

Fran Gallun
Fran Gallun, “Reflection: Water and Sky” (left)
Painted Paper Collage on Acrylic, 2008
“Reflection: Sun and Moon” (right)
Painted Paper Collage on Acrylic, 2008

Most of the work is striped in some way. Many are large and small pieces covered with narrow strips of painted paper lined up like venetian blinds over an under-image that shimmers and moves like a mirage. The mystery of what’s there is irresistible. It’s the tropical Key Largo take on film noir.

I’m also reminded of looking through the interference lines on a television screen to the moving image beneath.

Fran Gallun
Fran Gallun, installation shot at the Center for Works on Paper at Fleisher. At the opening, Fran said the older horizontal landscapes (on left in this image) are stripes, too (six of these sold to one collector).

What’s wonderful to me is the way that Fran, who is a friend of mine, takes the vocabulary of moving images and applies it to very different, spiritual purpose–a sort of anti-Mark Rothko, whose spiritual blooms of color are static and almost anti-material. Gallun’s view of spiritual transcendence is juicy and material and tactile and sexy.

Although the quest for lost generations of ancestors and their beliefs and their transcendental meditations has long been a subject for Gallun, expressed in forms like stelae, gates and landscapes. The new work, with its vague, watery shapes is more open and surprising, with room for all sorts of ruminations.

I don’t know what I’m looking at, but the ecstatic explosion of color and motion on the other side of the scrim seems like it must surely be heaven. Let me in.

The exhibit runs to March 7.


fleisher art memorial, fran gallun



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