Digital still-life images by Lisa Frank and dreamlike paintings by Nova Czarnecki.
Lisa Frank: STILLEVEN Lisa Frank digitally combines her close-range photographs of natural imagery into stunningly complex patterns and tableaux. While much of Frank's work is closely related to textile and wallpaper design, her most recent pieces explore the still life tradition. The title of her exhibition, Stilleven, is the Dutch word for still life, which also translates as "immobile nature." The still life painters of the 17th- and 18th-century worked quite literally from "immobile nature," creating staged compositions from life studies done in different seasons: spring tulips, summer vegetables, and autumn grapes, for example, coexisted on canvas as they never would have in nature. In a similar fashion, Frank constructs her compositions by digitally combining photographs taken throughout the year. The resulting works seamlessly merge the natural and the artificial, and marry the clear-eyed perspective of a scientist to an artist's romantic and subtly melancholic vision.
Frank is tireless in her pursuit of new subjects; she has shot nearly 10,000 photos of wild mushrooms alone, all organized into tidy categories for later retrieval. Among the hundreds of images used to create the works in Stilleven are photographs of reptiles from the Vilas Zoo, cacti from the UW greenhouses, toads from a Minnesota nature preserve, and birds from Olbrich Garden's conservatory. In Frank's words, "This photographic journal keeping forms a personal, arbitrary, asymmetrical time chart that is deeply resonant for me and key to my understanding of what it means to be alive and of this world."
Nova Czarnecki: IT'S ONLY NATURAL In Nova Czarnecki's paintings, nature and the body become metaphors for emotional connection and spiritual transcendence. Figures merge with the tangled limbs of trees, flocks of colorful birds, cascades of flowers, honeycombs, and oceanic tides, calmly gliding through fantastic, dreamlike landscapes. The realistic clarity of her imagery heightens the impact of these surreal juxtapositions, which she describes as "colorful explosions of alternate reality." Embraced and penetrated by swirling, lyrical passages of natural form, Czarnecki's figures radiate a tender calm. Their peculiar stillness gives them a mythic quality; they are like messengers from an mysterious, yet strangely familiar territory.