In the West it can be easy to be seduced by the grand vistas — the panoramas unveiled at high places. As Louise Fischman shows in her current exhibit at the Gallery at Library Square, the details are just as visually intriguing. And even related. In Unearthed, she takes us on a journey through the intricate tapestry of Earth’s processes and energies. Each canvas hums with the vitality of geological forms, where solid landscapes fracture into seams, flow lines, and cracks, weaving together in a dance of intriguing patterns. The result is a testament to Fischman’s keen eye for capturing nature’s harmonious chaos.
Fischman is a New York native who first discovered the West while participating as a college student in an anthropological project with the Kaibab-Paiute tribe in Arizona. She and her husband, artist Wayne Geary, eventually chose to relocate to Salt Lake City, where Fischman has taught art in public schools and for 30 years ran a therapeutic art program at Primary Children’s Hospital. She has seen the West with the freshness of new eyes, but absorbed its lessons over decades.
Fischman’s fascination with fractal structures is evident, as she navigates between the colossal and the minuscule. “The radical shifting of perspectives in scale has an emotional resonance for me,” Fischman says. “I see an uncanny correspondence between shifting physical scales and changing psychological and emotional perspectives. Rather than appreciating landscape for only its abundant scenic qualities I am also fascinated with the mysterious organizing principles and forces that underlie it.”
Her works are a visual symphony, where the smallest details echo across paper and canvas, creating an experience that beckons viewers to lose themselves in the undulating rhythms of the natural world. The same shimmering line that describes the movement of water in “Meandering with Pools” also vitalizes the rock cliff faces of “Escalante River Canyon” and the gnarled bark of “Old Growth.” Color is as important as line in Fischman’s work. With their attention to vibrant luminosity rather than an attempt at natural color, her paintings become like keyed musical compositions, in, say, Blue major or Purple minor. In works like “The Head of the Rocks” and “Out of Step,” Fischman’s vistas are from hard-earned peaks where the more immediate splendors are framed by receding forms that invite continued exploration. In these wide-angle panoramas, she uses shifts in color to suggest shifts in geology and to help the eye see the forces that have formed the landscape.
Fischman only identifies a few of her locales (including at least two in Iceland, which though geographically distant from the American West shares some striking geologic similarities), but almost all are places of land and water, with little if no vegetation. Lands where changes, from small shifts to grand eruptions, are laid bare by erosion. Lands of multiple, changing perspectives.
Louise Fischman: Unearthed, Gallery at Library Square, Salt Lake City, through Nov. 10
The founder of Artists of Utah and editor of its online magazine, 15 Bytes, Shawn Rossiter has undergraduate degrees in English, French and Italian Literature and studied Comparative Literature in graduate school before pursuing a career in art.