In ‘Disorienting’ New Show, Influential Houston Artist Finds Inspiration in the Everyday

DON’T WORRY IF you feel a bit unbalanced when you enter the room at Inman Gallery dedicated to Francesca Fuchs’ current show, how a rock is all about surface. Stay calm if it seems the floor is disappearing from beneath your feet. And don’t be surprised if you can’t stop looking — and looking again — at this oddly placed, intimately conceived exhibit of five small acrylic paintings, two cups made of fired clay, and a trompe l’oeil of gray matching the color of the concrete floor, and roughly painted at the base of the walls.

“I think it is a reflection of how the world feels, especially at the moment,” says Fuchs of the slightly disorienting feel of the installation. “Where you are not sure what is happening next, and time and space have become stretched out of shape and shortened in strange ways.”

Originally trained as a sculptor, Fuchs explores and seems to find comfort in the tenuous link between one’s memory of an object and the actual, physical object, be it a small rock, roughly and randomly covered with strokes of paint, the resulting swirls looking like a planet’s oceans as seen from outer space; or an ashtray consisting of a shallow bowl and an awkwardly sculpted snail, like something your kid would make and give to you in earnest and you end up putting away in a drawer when they’re not looking.

No matter how fragile or gentle the subject, Fuchs’ paintings are never sentimental. There’s even a bit of humor in how she’s chosen to display a small blue mug and a fiery orange cup before two corresponding paintings of slightly damaged sculptures, one being the head of a figure from Ancient Greece (“Kore”), the other a freaky looking harlequin (“Transformer”).

“I really enjoy how a painting of an object and an actual object rub against each other,” says Fuchs. “There is a goofiness as well as tenderness and thoughtfulness I want out of these pairings and placements.”

So, don’t feel self-conscious if you find yourself laughing, and then weeping just a bit while experiencing how a rock is all about surface. As Tom Waits once sang, “Time is just memory, mixed in with desire,” and through her art, Fuchs infuses profound meaning in the things we throw away.

Francesca Fuchs: how a rock is all about surface is on view through February 26, 2022 at Inman Gallery.

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