Transpersonal landscapes

The project Transpersonal Landscapes emerged during 2015 – 2017 as my personal transgression from my design and jewelry practice during the past seven years and a return to a less restrained artistic expression that I had previously neglected.

I started the project through a series of miniature abstract drawings called KAMI: The Play of Fire and Water, which explores the subtleties of visual perception through the interplay of blue, red and yellow tones. Focusing on these small and simple drawings commenced a gradual opening of my imagination and introduced me into the world of color, while I subsequently dared to expand the scope of action by starting to paint on reclaimed canvases in acrylic.

I painted expressively and automatically, without forethought and sketching, but right from the feeling I had at the moment. Originally, I inadvertently resided in the sphere of figuration, which I soon abandoned, focusing instead on the simplest and most abstract representation of the emotional and sensory state that I felt in myself momentarily. The challenge in doing so was to return to the same or similar state at which I originally started the painting, which led me to reflect on the constructed nature of emotion1 and its expression.

I was posting pictures on social media, wanting to at least to some extent involve the audience in my work at the very beginning, not as it is common to only present the finished works to the audience at the exhibition – because, as Alois Riegl and later Ernst Kris and Ernst Gombrich recognized in the notion of beholder’s share: a part of the perception of the work of art, indeed is in the observer himself. In doing so, I had the opportunity to monitor the response of the environment to my recently published works, either through direct communication or through the observation of flows of associative thoughts.

Following the behavior of the audience I noticed that the human brain prefers figuration, and makes assumptions based on the already experienced, either through something experienced by ourselves or through something intermediary constructed. As Ernst Gombrich put it: “It is the power of expectation rather than the power of conceptual knowledge that molds what we see in life not less than in art.” 2 Thus, the personal transgressed into the interpersonal or transpersonal, while the meaning metamorphosed and gained a second aspect through the eyes of each observer individually, but also through the interaction as a whole.

I exhibited the project in 2017, at the Decumanus Gallery in Krk, while several works from the exhibition were later presented in 2017 during the charity exhibition Artists of the Island Krk for Teo, at gallery Šilo in Šilo and in 2018 at group exhibitions K.O.Z.M.O.G.O.N.I.J.E in gallery PIKTO in Zagreb, and at the exhibition Overview of Artistic Creation of the Island of Krk in Gallery of St. Nicolas in Malinska.

Lena Franolić, 2020.

[1]^ Barrett L.F. (2017); How Emotions are Made: the Secret Life of the Brain; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

[2]^ Gombrich E. (1960); Art and Illusion: A Study in the Psychollogy of Pictorial Representation; Princeton University Press

The text Sensory Manifestation of Freedom written for the exhibition by art historian Bruna Justinić can be found below.

Sensory Manifestation of Freedom

„Every artist dips his brush into his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.“
— Henry Ward Beecher

Although the time of various „-isms“ in art has long since past (because ever since the last century each artist is creating his or her own, very individual and special version of artistic expression), the works of Lena Franolić are showing us a sensibility that inclines towards abstract expressionism with a modus operandi similar to surrealist automatism. Her mode of work reminds us of the creative process of writers that used stream-of-consciousness and automatic writing to dive into unknown depths of their own personalities.

The paintings posses a primordial character, something that reminds us of primitive or indigenous art, which has expression of the artistic impulse as its ultimate aim – creation for creation itself. Her canvases can be called abstract just because the entities that she represents have no form in the material world. In this way vibration, emotion, intuition, energy and inspiration … altogether actually very concrete and complex concepts are materialized on the paintings. Abstraction is in that sense essential for the contouring of transcendental reality, „transpersonal landscapes“, as the authoress calls them.

The observer can’t avoid feeling the deeper, spiritual dimension of Lenas works. Behind the surface, that sometimes resembles the forms of Jean Arp /Reconciliation 2016./, while in the other works it already reminds us of paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe /The Allure of Fire I. 2016./, /Breakthrough of Magnesium Rose 2017./, there hides a stratum saturated by the authors wish to materialize spirit out of her rich inner world and transfer it to a dimension more apparent to us. The path she embarks on through this Odyssey also leaves a mark on the canvases /Enantiodromia 2017./ where the forms, as contours on geography maps, sequence themselves, contorting and composing a warm harmony of colors and forms.

By the words of Hegel, the German philosopher, theorist of art and aesthetics, it is exactly art that gives us the needed expression for the self-comprehension of spirit. The main purpose of art is not to imitate nature or decorate places which we sojourn, but to allow ourselves the contemplation and delight in the created paintings of our own spiritual nature. From this follows that the aim of art is to present us the truth about our own selves and to enable us to become conscious about who we truly are. Aesthetic thus emerges directly from the sensory manifestation of freedom of spirit and an artwork is considered beautiful exactly because it expresses our candour.

While she was still struggling to liberate or better to say channel creative energy /Kami 2015./ trying to surpass the set frames (her own personal, mental and parallel, the ones self-set on paper), Lena was gradually letting the organic forms follow their own flow, move freely and develop trough acquiring their own lives and therefore, inevitable beauty /Bindu 2016./. It’s only by painting freely, without afore set conception of the final appearance of the painting or a relation to the forms of the outer world, that something new and unknown can be found in the (sub)conscious of the artist and expressed trough the work of art.

From the big canvases /Sun Corona 2017./, to the small, very intimate white drawings on black paper where she uses the line with calligraphic refinement, /Essentials 2017./, the Ariadne’s thread is in all exhibited works a simultaneously intense and tender female principle that presents itself in the very personal style of lyrical abstraction by Lena Franolić. The beyond and the conceptual, becomes materialized trough the intuitive expression on her drawings and canvases.

Bruna Justinić, 2017.

(Transpersonal landscapes catalogue.pdf)

Back to: Portfolio – Lena Franolić