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Shadow and Feather
McGill Tribune.  November 12, 2012  Joanna Schacter

Frances Foster. Dream catcher extraordinaire.

Selective Memory is a multimedia trip where fleeting forms meet in the realm of the psyche

Frances Foster’s paintings are a look through the eyes of another—an exploration of mind and memory.
The Montreal-born artist and Dawson college alumna has received much praise for her work, on display in U.S.
and Canadian collections throughout the past 20 years. Her solo painting exhibit Selective Memory marks
Foster’s return to Montreal.
Selective Memory showcases Foster’s talent for conveying the ephemeral. The exhibit’s title alludes to Foster’s
statement that her work is a “study in memory and dream fragments threaded back together.”
Drawing upon old memories, dreams, and daydreams, the exhibition explores the residue and impressions
of past events, kept on as snatches of image and feeling.
Like half-forgotten dreams, Foster’s paintings are blurred, subdued, fragmented, but oddly and strikingly beautiful.
Greens and blues dominate, undercut by neutrals that ground the fleeting images presented by the artist.
Forms—faces, heads, bodies, landscapes—emerge from the colours like tendrils emerge from steam. It seems
effortless, and as dream-like as the artist intends.
Oil paint is supplemented by beads, gold leaf, feathers, jewel fragments, and glass. In addition, a number of
techniques are put to outstanding use, adding to the show’s intriguing nature. Foster employs impasto,
the technique of thickly layering paint to add a 3D effect, sometimes sparingly, sometimes with abandon.
The palette knife seems to be one of her tools of choice, seen in her application of paint to imitate plaster.
With thick and smooth brush strokes, as well as cracked paint, Foster adds to the impression of ancient,
forgotten memory.
Though all her paintings are beautiful and engaging, one is particularly striking: blues, pinks, and yellow-greens
are blended together to bring to mind a Renaissance painting of sky and cloud near sunset. A small bald head,
with empty background for eyes, thickly and Impressionistically pasted on with khaki paint and dabs of gold,
adorns the centre of the canvas. The empty eyes stare out at the viewer, the implied nose and mouth
stubbornly set. A feather is placed to the right of the head, stark white in contrast to the rest of the painting.
Foster’s show is impressive: multi-media, multi-dimensional, multi-faceted, as well as deeply, remarkably,
and gracefully layered. She takes a great deal of the good in contemporary art and makes it even more
emotive, even larger than life. Yet she also translates it into something intrinsically human and makes it
accessible, understandable, and meaningful. Everyone can relate to these paintings and that feeling of déja-vu,
of trying to desperately grasp on to the memory of last night’s dream the moment you wake up, of trying s
so hard to remember that one little detail that someone said happened last night.
Foster takes those feelings, paints them, and then shares them.

Selective Memory. Nov 9th 2012 - Jan 11th 2013. Wilder & Davis Gallery, Montreal