Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Lantern Keeper: The Art of Alana Forslun: Walleye Magazine, January 2011

Alana Forslund is concerned that we adults are losing the best part of ourselves – memories of childhood, along with our imagination and our ability to play, overrun with the pressures of living the day-to-day adult life.
With the aid of a grant from the Ontario Arts Council, Alana was given enough time to play with these ideas in her wonderful new paintings. “Lantern Keeper,” featuring a barefoot woman in the forest with her jar of fireflies, is a good example of her new work. Alana’s deft handling of oil paint (“amazing mush” she calls it) is a joy to observe. Backgrounds are complete works, not filler, which Alana treats and uses to great effect to place her subjects in real and allegorical settings. Light and shadow dance over the skin of her subjects, reacting and firmly setting the characters within a story – a happening of some sort, where the subjects are absorbed in their playful activity. Much is alluded to but nothing is resolved, much like the act of playing itself. These moody images, focusing on a singular character, inspire the viewer to ask, “what’s her story.”

Alana felt that the love her friends used to have for childhood activities were fading in their memories. “Losing memories is normal. Memories are fluid. They make us human, but losing them is also sort of a scary,” Alana says. That tone of thought can be seen in other paintings where striating interference lines scratch the surface, obscuring some of the imagery and reminding the viewer that something unreal is going on. Thankfully the strength of the images, the wonderment and enjoyment the subjects find in their activity indicate that Alana is optimist. There’s enough hope and resolve to keep positive memories alive that make Alana’s work brilliantly humanist, and make Alana’s paintings and career worth great attention.

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