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Fanny Bostrom’s, Picnic


31 Grand
143 Ludlow Street, between Rivington and Stanton, 212-228-0901
East Village / Lower East Side
May 29 - June 29, 2008
Reception: Thursday, May 29, 7 - 9 PM
Web Site

For her first solo exhibition with 31GRAND, Swedish-born Artist Fanny Bostrom has selected the succinct, if not facile, title – Picnic. Upon entering the transformed gallery space one cannot help but feel as though they’ve crossed a threshold into Ms. Bostrom’s cosmology that is comprised of paintings, drawings, cut-paper silhouettes, sculptures and a mixed media installation. Instead of recreation, respite and rural pace, we’re surrounded by a frenzy of activity – both in terms of the multiple art forms she has employed as well as the multiple renderings of mad productivity that figure heavily in her work.

It would seem that Ms. Bostrom is playing the term ‘picnic’ in two directions. At first glance, her own prolific preparations seems to invoke the old adage – life’s no picnic – and implies that leisure is a luxury; yet her images simultaneously foreground bustling scenes within naturalized landscapes that are made inhabitable, even cozy, through the activities that take place therein.

In her paintings of multi-level landscapes we find, what appear to handmade homes, forts and cabins replete with oddly shaped windows and porches. Lilliputian figures, each preoccupied with their own mission, are scattered across these structures that are set upon cleaved hills and divided by deep ravines. These nascent figures seem to possess neither the time nor interest in facing one another, their only concern is the task at hand, which may include: smoking a pipe, climbing a ladder, burrowing into a hill, climbing a tree. They ceaselessly fish and forage – in search of what exactly, we cannot easily deduce.

The few figures that are strung together by telephone yarn appear more distanced than connected and like worker ants, they belong more to a colony than a community. If there is a queen, it is not one single being, but perhaps the supernatural cross-eyed owl, a symbol of nature and wisdom, which hovers above.

While her paintings and silhouettes are colorful, there is a flatness that pervades Fanny Bostrom’s work. Despite the painstaking detail of texture provided in her drawings, each scene is drained of color and contorted in scale. Mythical pathologies shift as the frantic do-it-yourself Lilliputians turn into cannibalistic Amazonians roasting sausages on open fires. Amidst the kitschy domesticity of cabin life and the wide-eyed cartoon animals lurks a sinister undertone that we more commonly associate with outsider art. Like many outsider artists, Bostrom is self-taught and her own urgent faith in activity is made manifest by her ambition to set herself to task. Like the people that populate her images Ms. Bostrom is working in every direction possible with extreme focus. Again, in search of exactly what, we cannot easily deduce, but it will be interesting to see what she does next.

- J. Malac, 2008
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