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Review of Fran Kornfeld: Passage

Winter 2010
Winter 2010
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Nancy Cohen is a sculptor in Jersey City, New Jersey. She has taught at Queens College in Flushing, New York since 2004 and serves on the board of directors of Dieu Donné Papermill in New York City. In November 2010 she will have a solo exhibition at Kean University in Union, New Jersey; the exhibition will be accompanied by a catalog with essays by Janet Koplos and Kelly Murphy. In Spring 2011, one of her large installations in handmade paper will be included in the exhibition "Green: The Color and the Cause" at the Textile Museum in Washington, DC.  "Passage," Fran Kornfeld's exhibition at 210 Gallery in Brooklyn, had the vastness of landscape and the intimacy of a handful of candies—individual expressive moments opening to fields of color. There was a sense of play and discovery in the work that brought to mind Richard Tuttle and intimations of landscape, which made me think of the interlocking ripples of color in Monet's paintings. The gallery contained four separate pieces reverberating with richness and energy. Each installation occupied its own section of the gallery with a strong connection between them. They seemed to engage each other in conversation. >>>

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The exhibition was a visual delight on many levels. Each installation had several dozen components spreading out across the walls, ceilings, and unexpected surfaces of the gallery. The installations were composed of organically ovoid-shaped distinct pulp paintings. The components are individually crisp, taut forms deeply saturated in color. The elements felt internal like psychedelic intestines or insect larvae about to hatch, clearly in the midst of some kind of transformation. The forms lyrically joined together to create rich experiences. Every four or five of these opaque yet light-filled modules appeared to me like musical phrases in an overall composition. Each installation contained pauses and shifts in color and form providing an evolving array of interrelationships. "Passage" is an apt title for the exhibition. Each installation was both a visual passage, as elements spread out linearly across the wall, and a chronological passage of time since the theme and content of each piece developed over several years. As such, these installations can also be read as abstract calendars marking the years—a decade of Kornfeld's work in handmade paper. The earliest components, from 2001, share a strong reference to water and landscape, where blue is the strongest hue in the palette. In the far corner of the gallery, the Impressionists came most clearly in mind with the installation Blue Grotto. In Kornfeld's most recent piece Day into Night (for E.M.) internal striations and patterns were most evident with its intensely colored slices of invented geological forms. For a number of the years when these elements were being made I worked in the same studio as Kornfeld in the open studio program at Dieu Donné. I surreptitiously watched as she methodically squeezed out tubes of colored pulp with turkey basters onto organically shaped sheets of wet linen paper. For years I never saw the pieces dry and had no clue what the intention was or how they would eventually come together. I was thrilled several years ago to see a large wall installation in a group exhibition in Chelsea \[New York\] and delighted to see that piece again, along with several others, in this exhibition dedicated solely to this work, where it could really sing. Kornfeld is primarily a painter and these paper installations work strongest as good paintings do. Color has its own language and form. I want to step back and take it all in, then come close and experience the moment. By working in handmade paper in an intense and focused way this past decade, Kornfeld has made a significant and distinctive body of work and a very rewarding exhibition.