Gallery Highlights

Printmaking

What is it about printmaking that is so satisfying and even tantalizing? I'd have to say it is the presence in printmaking, of an "uncertainty factor". I never know, in the beginning, how my print will look in the end. The process involves a kind of surrender--to the chemistry and alchemy of printmaking.

Often I feel as if I am working with an unseen collaborator. Put something down onto the plate, and the acid responds and comments, at times with elements so much deeper and more graphically expressive than I could have imagined. Just when I think I know which inks to use, the image might shout back, “No, I need to be blue!” The final picture achieves autonomy, having passed through many veils, many trials, many mysterious conversations.

The printmaking process conjures a mathematics where one plus one equals, in the end, some illogical sum, and where concept is quickly dismantled as the work proceeds towards its own fulfillment.

- Fran Bull

 

SCRIBBLE SCRABBLE

2014 ~ sand blasted Plexiglas etching,
chine-collé on Arches etching paper

 

 

RUMBLE TUMBLE

2014 ~ sand blasted Plexiglas etching, chine-collé on Arches etching paper

 
 

MOLDED PLATE

2014

 
 

HOMO LUDENS

Day and Night series

2013 ~ acid-etched alumninum plates on handmade paper

HOMO LUDENS

Day and Night series

2013 ~ acid-etched aluminum plates on handmade paper

 

SELF PORTRAIT WITH POETRY

2008 ~ woodcut etching, handmade paper

 
 

SEASON OF BONES

2008 ~ copperplate and mixed media etching

The inspiration and starting point for this series was a photograph of two excavated skeletons, found by archaeologists in Valdaro, Italy. Their bones were locked in an embrace, their legs and arms were piled together like sticks, their heads, now skulls, were turned towards each other, suggesting poignantly, they’d died gazing into each other’s eyes.

 
 

DIALOGOS

2008 ~ Plastic Trilogy / shaped acrylic plates

In Dialogos two separate plates are positioned in each print. The shapes are abstract and geometric, but a relationship is inferred. The white or negative space between the shapes forms a third shape and in this way participates in the game.

 
 

TROZOS

2008 ~ Plastic Trilogy / shaped acrylic plates

In Trozos each printed plate lives alone on its ground—a field of handmade paper from Banyoles in northern Spain. I have a great affection for this paper, which itself plays a role in the print establishing the “environment” in which the shape resides or rests. I see each singular plate as having a distinctive presence similar in containment and personality to that of a figure.

 
 

KALEIDOSCOPICOS

2008 ~ Plastic Trilogy / shaped acrylic plates

Kaleidoscopicos continues the game of juxtaposition, colorations and recombination. Triangular shapes and such remained after each plate was cut and these were arranged strategically as if from a broken kaleidoscope.

 
 

RASTROS

2006 ~ acrylic plate, handmade paper

Rastros is a Spanish word meaning traces, shavings, bits. I chose this word for the series because it comes very close to describing the work. The pieces are fleeting things, they are an honoring of gesture; they are, you could say, fossilized remains.

 
 

BARCELONA!

2001 ~ carborundum etched plexiglass

Toda la vida es grabado.  

Fissures in sidewalks, cracks in walls, fingerprints, bricks marked by rain, rust, lines on human faces, the texture of cloth, veins in leaves, peeling paint, ocean shaping the line of the shore, strata in rock, tire marks, genes, footprints on sand, shoeprints on asphalt, crevasses, Pompeii, Nasca lines, Lascaux cave, the astronomical carving at Newgrange, ancient petroglyphs, a photograph, fossils, human memory
– the list like a song by Antonio Carlos Jobim.

All of life is etching.

 
 

SUITE: SWEET

2001 ~ copperplate etching

In this group of copperplate etchings, I explore the language of human gesture. I speculate on the meaning of arms touching, embracing, reaching, enfolding. I delve into the secrets revealed in the juxtaposition of human figures.

 
 

ZINC ETCHING

2001 ~ acid etched zinc

 
 

HORSE AND RIDER

2001 ~ woodcut print

 

Sculpture

I began a decade ago making paintings whose surfaces were raised like topographical maps. I was using Venetian plaster, a very lovely material introduced to me by my friend Robin Carter, a master of the art of interior walls and faux finishes. The work evolved over time from being somewhat abstract to overtly figurative (see STATIONS). I think of these as “sculptural paintings”. The figures jut from the canvas as much as 35 inches, but the art can hang on the wall. Next, using the same processes and materials, my figures left the canvas and are now freestanding. This work occupies me in the studio currently and I am calling the series, FOOLS, a quote from Shakespeare: What fools these mortals be.

- Fran Bull

 

FOOLS

2017 ~ mixed media

 

 

HEADS

2008 ~ mixed media

 
 

THE MOTHERS

2000 ~ Bronze Sculpture

The Mothers are my mother and your mother. They are, as well, our grandmothers, and all grandmothers who ever were and are. They embody the Mystery and the sacred soul of Woman. Thus, I have made them in the traditional shape of the ancient saints, virgins, sorceresses, and of those women of wisdom who nurture and mourn for all in the world. Try to discern their faces. You may catch a glimpse your own.

 
 

For Ceremonies
and Singing Praise

1998 ~ mixed media

 
 

MATER DOLOROSA

1998 ~ mixed media

In this work I consider and critique the world-view of Judeo-Christian culture. I have enshrined twelve women – friends, colleagues, loved ones – as avatars of the divine feminine. For centuries women have lacked fully dimensional images of God as a woman. The Virgin Mary offers but one facet of the prismatic feminine mirror into which a woman or girl might gaze to find reflections of her own divine nature.

 
 

MEANDERING SAINTS

1998 ~ recycled paper

 

Painting

I hope we never stop painting, never succumb to those who say, Painting is dead. Those of us who love to paint have an intimate relationship with color and form and the matter of it, the substance itself—sometimes liquid and flowing, sometimes thick and resistant. We relish plasticity—the fact that paint will bend to our ideas and thoughts, will even give back with surprises and beautiful improvisations beyond what we’d imagined. I love holding a brush in my hand, loaded with a color, ready to spread on a canvas, feeling just out of control and a little nervous.

- Fran Bull

 

SOUL CLAP HANDS AND SING

2016 ~ Acrylic on Arches cold press paper

 
 

DARK MATTER

2007 ~ mixed media on canvas

Ours is a universe, according to cosmologists, that contains and conceals the massive presence of a mystery called Dark Matter.

We are told that dark matter has vastly more mass than the “visible” component of the universe. This intriguing presence/absence, with all of its fertile implications and metaphorical possibilities, inspired the title of this series of works on canvas.

 
 

TERRA NOVA

2004 ~ acrylic and ink on canvas

I think of these paintings as weavings, because they are made of strands or motifs from diverse cultures, knotted together. Their patterns are laid over golden grounds. Their message is one of conservation: let us remember the old teaching stories, the beauty and wisdom of ancient cultures, the fragility of civilization’s veneer. And let us treasure our own personal civilizations, our ancestors, whose legacies live on in us.

 
 

SYZYGY

2003 ~ mixed media on canvas

The ancients observed the sun as a shining disc that descended into the earth at day’s end, casting its brilliance into dark matter, illuminating the dark earth underground. These paintings are re-imaginings of this mythic occurrence.

 
 

SOUND AND COLOR

2000–2002 ~ acrylic on handmade paper

These portraits of opera singers in their costumes and makeup were inspired by Japanese woodblock prints portraying actors from the Kabuki theatre.

 
 

THE MAGDALENE CYCLE

2000 ~ acrylic on canvas

Mary Magdalene has recently been re-envisioned as a symbol of the repression and demonization of the ancient divine feminine. These paintings are about her journey towards a modern reincarnation, one still very much in process, still evolving, a counterpoint to the historically concretized figure found in museums and in history books. She is represented here through a kind of biomorphism, the forms being fluid, akin to those gasses you see in photos of outer space, swirling and full of color. In this way, I represent the unknowable.

 
 

SOPHIA VOYAGES

1993 ~ acrylic on canvas

I imagined motifs which could stand for things in the world—trees, people, whole landscapes—yet which were entirely strange, like a foreign alphabet, or a child’s drawing that is comprehensible only to him.

 
 

SOPHIA SERIES

1992 ~ acrylic on handmade paper

An artist of my acquaintance once asked: Do feelings have a look? The pragmatist and the phenomenologist say, No! These drawings on paper with acrylic paint are more or less about the look of feelings.

 
 

LUX AETERNA

1991 ~ acrylic on paper

This work is an attempt to picture the unseen: felt energies; cell structures; sub-atomic presences; implosions, fissions. Its appearance is abstract, yet, for me, it represents aspects of the real. On some fundamental plane, art and science converge; feeling and mater enter into fusion.

 
 

PHOTOREALISM

1973 - 1985 ~ watercolor on paper / graphite on paper

I copied photographs of things reflected in water. Using the grid method I strove to replicate the photograph meticulously. Now I had a painting of a photograph in which the photograph reflects, or copies itself on the surface of water. Contained within the painted image is the secret of its making. It remains a copy filtered through the artist’s flawed, but earnest perception of the original. Turbulent water fragments the image it reflects, even as the painter’s turbulent mind influences the image it strives to copy. I am attracted to this play of image imaging itself, and commenting upon itself in the process.

 

Installations

I think of Installations as distinct from exhibitions. Exhibitions of art can be formal affairs whereas installations require the art to be displayed dynamically, invading and carving space expressively. There is even a challenge to arrange installations so as to “choreograph” the movements of spectators within such spaces, to have the arrangement influence how viewers move through and experience the art. There is a distinct theatrical element to installations and a call to viewers to “confront” and interact with the art rather than to regard it dispassionately.

- Fran Bull

 

STATIONS

An Installation of Sculptural Painting

2014 ~ Wood, Styrofoam, Italian plaster and mixed mediums

This is a work that addresses the dilemma of being human, of being sentient and aware of transience; of the conundrums posed in searching for meaning and purpose in the span between birth and death. Its cast of characters is portrayed in bed in various attitudes and states of being. In the mix are allusions to love and longing, to night and dreams, to death, joy and the haunting presence of the mythic and transcendent within ordinary daily life.

 
 

In Flanders Fields
Chaffee Art Center Exhibition

Rutland, VT
2015

 
 

CARMEN

2004 ~ acrylic on canvas
Set design for Carmen

 

More installations can be found here: In Flanders Fields Exhibitions.

Works on Paper

I could be persuaded to say, even if exaggerating, that all of the work I have done on paper, including printmaking, has been an excuse to interact with paper, itself. Paper is gorgeous stuff that is as varied in its qualities as the leaves, wood, rags and other sundry materials from which it is made. Paper welcomes and receives, it provides a ground for drawings and prints, subtly influencing all it “hosts”.

- Fran Bull

 

08.15.11

2011 ~ photo-enlarged collage on paper

These pieces were made in a single day as small collage works and were then photographically enlarged and printed by master photographer, Don Ross. Going back into old sketchbooks, I found some words and ideas that had come and gone. They were still intriguing to me, and I have used them as a basis for the work you see here. I very much enjoyed working quickly and intuitively and revisiting some old impulses that still feel interesting and valid, and that may inspire future work.

 
 

WORKS ON PAPER

2008 ~ mixed media on paper

 
 

ACRYLIC ON PAPER

1991 ~ acrylic on paper

 
 

INK ON PAPER

1987 - 1990 ~ ink on paper

 
 

OIL CRAYON ON PAPER

1987 - 1989 ~ oil crayon on paper