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Mary Frank ‘As Time Goes By’ showing at Skoto Gallery

13 May 2010 13 May 2010 Tags: No Comment Print This Post Print This Post

Mary Frank: Three Dancers

Skoto Gallery is pleased to present As Time Goes By, a solo exhibition by the American artist Mary Frank, including a selection of encaustics, works on paper and photographs from the period 1960-2010. The reception is Thursday, May 13th, 6-8pm and the artist will be present.

The visual imagery that Mary Frank utilizes in the body of work in this exhibition stems from a long evolution of methods, materials and subjects that have precedents in her earlier work in sculpture with clay and woodcarving, drawing, painting and works on wax. She draws on memory and myth to create works that celebrates an openness, at once visceral and spiritual. A prolific artist, she has over the past five decades, consistently remained true to an artistic vision that is firmly rooted in the fissure between the natural world and the world of the imagination, and seeks to expand the boundaries between art and consciousness.

Mary Frank’s work is wrought out of a complex synthesis of seemingly random juxtaposition of recurring symbols and markers, combined with an extraordinary ability to draw, deep sensitivity to texture and a mastery of tonality and color. For Frank, art has myriad functions: “To comfort the dead, awaken the living, to know the migration seasons of birds and fish, to know the human immigrations of the past and right now,” she says. “To be able to use experiences and transform them … to make the eyes of children widen, to give courage, and never be afraid of tenderness or the absurd and to gather joy.”

Mary Frank was born 1933, in London, England. She has been the subject of numerous solo museum and gallery exhibitions, including the Brooklyn Museum, the DeCordova Museum, The Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Everson Museum of Art, Marsh Art Gallery at the University of Richmond, and the Neuberger Museum. Her work is also in the permanent collections of the above institutions and other museums including the Art Institute of Chicago, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the National Museum of American Art, the Newark Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the Yale University Art Gallery.

Messenger Series II (1991-92) 20 x 29 in Oil Stick on Paper

She is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including two Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship Awards in 1973 and 1983, the Lee Krasner Award of the Pollock-Krasner Foundation in 1993, and the Joan Mitchell Grant Award in 1995. Mary Frank was elected to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1984. A major monograph on Mary Frank by Hayden Herrera was published by Harry N. Abrams, New York in 1990. She collaborated with noted naturalist Peter Mattiessen on the book Shadows of Africa in 1992, and later with poet Terry Tempest Williams on Desert Quartet, An Erotic Landscape, and with writer Jonathan Cott on Skies in Bloom: The Nature Poetry of Emily Dickenson. She is represented by DC Moore, New York and Elena Zang, Woodstock, New York. – Skoto Gallery

As Time Goes By
Mary Frank
Encaustics, Works on Paper, Photographs, 1960-2010

This selection of Mary Frank’s works on paper – ink drawings, monoprints, pastels, and recent archival inkjet photographs – offers a counterpoint to her large diptychs and triptychs as well as reminders of the multipart clay figures of her earlier years. The familiar imagery is here, the falling figures, swimmers, Spanish walls, riders on running horses, and various suggestions of the timeless and exotic, yet in each occurrence the images seem to arise afresh out of her working process. A non-traditional approach to materials has always been one of the hallmarks of Mary Frank’s work whether she was working with rolled-out slabs of clay, or mixing oil, encaustic, and charcoal, or pressing cut-out silhouettes into the surface of a monoprint. One has the sense that she is constantly exploring the potentials of a medium and letting the process uncover an image that seems to come to the surface after long gestation.

Woman in the Present, 2008, oil, encaustic on wood,14x18 inches.

Some of the works on paper are simply elegant China ink brush drawings, while others have opaque surfaces built up with thick layers of paint, the later exemplified by the dark ground of a St. Sebastian-like figure pierced with electrifying orange lines. There are direct references to tribal art as in the raffia-covered Chi-wara figure figure that is part of an African planting ritual, and allusions to mythological transformations as in the pastel of the merging of an owl’s head and human leg. Several monoprints on the theme of “Man and Shadow” bring out the troubling persistence of the doppelganger that accompanies all who walk near a glimmer of light.

Not to be left behind by the technical innovations that daily transform our lives, Mary Frank has found a way to take advantage of technology with stunning results. Her most recent works are “Archival Inkjets Photographs” which offer lifelike fantastic settings that defy the viewer to distinguish between painting and photograph. While it is a common cross-over today to make one look like the other, these end up looking neither, but something entirely new. She assembles the elements of a composition on the studio floor, or, in the case of Fictions, in snow which gives the effect of frothy waves. Painted backgrounds, and cut out architectural elements or silhouetted figures may be added, along with a sprinkling of seeds or other minutiae that give textural contrast before the compositions are photographed by the artist. They were then printed via inkjet on archival paper to produce a hybrid in which the real and the tangible becomes components of fantasy. These hybrids are also extensions of Mary Frank’s lifelong involvement with the transformation of materials into images of a haunting poignancy.

Martica Sawin

New York, 2010

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