In this most recent body of work, Shalom’s abstract paintings strike a balance between formality and playful exuberance. Dynamic compositions of shapes are pared down to their basic, elemental forms, and rendered in vibrant colors. The clearly defined edges represent a quest for order and simplicity within a world of chaos. It is a search for clarity and humor, as evidenced by the bright and cartoonish shapes and colors in her paintings. However, like life itself, there is an undercurrent of conflict beneath the whimsy, which we see reflected in the tension and interaction between the shapes.
In writing about her work, art critic John Yau said, “Can we see things for what they are, even if we cannot name them, cannot in in that regard have dominion over them?” That statement speaks to ambiguity and being comfortable with not knowing. Shalom draws inspiration from Zen Buddhism and says, “in Zen there is a wonderful saying: not knowing is most intimate.”
The shapes in Shalom’s paintings reference the human body but are open to creative interpretation. Animated by highly saturated colors and compositional relationships, they become characters engaged in visual conversation with the viewer and with each other. Ultimately, it is important that the viewer becomes involved with the paintings, staying long enough with the images to connect to a narrative that is at once ambiguous yet taps into the specificities and subtleties of their own lives.
Fran Shalom has exhibited throughout the United States, including at John Davis Gallery, Fogg Art Museum, Sideshow Gallery, New York Studio School, Washington Project for the Arts, and Galerie LeLong. Her work is in the collections of Biblioteque National in France, Metropolitan Museum of Art and Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York, Fogg Art Museum and Rose Art Museum in Massachusetts, and the Erie Museum of Art in Pennsylvania.