John Folsom’s Framework and View is a slightly smaller show of landscapes created through a synthesis of painting and photography.
The subject is the area around Savannah and the National Wildlife refuge. For this series, Folsom photographed salt marshes and
woods. Humanity’s mark on the landscape appears infrequently in the form of a lone road or deserted path. Yet, despite their subject,
the natural world, these are overtly manipulated pictures.
Many of the landscapes feature bodies of water, such as Framework and View #3. One of the larger works, it shows a salt marsh
around high tide. The water is placid and the sky above dramatic. Rosy clouds part and reveal a dark, starry sky in the upper corners
as if to suggest that this is an accumulation of moments, perhaps culled from memory. There is a subtle but pervasive sense of
simplification throughout the image. The picture breaks down into 25 smaller squares that form a basic grid as if to further distort it.
Through the Ground Glass, a smaller print, is similarly manipulated. Kudzu-encrusted boughs of the trees form an arch through which
glaring light shines so as to contrast with the tenebrous shadows of the forest’s interior. Again, framework of lines interrupts the image,
though in some places thick kudzu obscures it. An “X” marks the center.
One of Folsom’s hallmark moves for Framework and View is the use of the grid. However, it does not seem to be an underlying
framework that is revealed. Rather, the grid appears to exist on the surface of the image. Perhaps it echoes the grid that one can use
in a camera’s lens to look through to compose a shot — both a visual aid and screen. Folsom also uses translucent passages of paint
to veil and abstract the landscape. His underlying idea seems to be that the grid insists on the artifice of the images and reminds the
viewer that they are unfaithful representations of the natural word. The grid has a longtime association with humans’ efforts to make
sense out of things, but here it seems to act as more of a partition — that is, a barrier — a reminder of the falsity of the image within.
Whether rendered by hand or photographed, pictures are subject to distortion, the whims of the viewer, or outright manipulation.
Folsom’s ideas are rich and his images serene. One question I’m left with is the subject itself: why the salt marsh and the woods?
Perhaps both are places that constantly change and are rich with life. The marsh especially is bound to a daily cycle. Our memories of
such places, on the other hand, are static and mute representations.