Chuck Forsman : Common Ground
Mar 9 – Apr 9, 2005
Noted American painter/photographer Chuck Forsman's works are highly considered and deeply felt responses to what he witnesses. The artist relentlessly investigates and confronts humankind's presence on the landscape, its bold assertions and telling marks. Forsman's consummate formal and painterly polish paired with his uncanny ability to find beauty in even the most devastated landscapes thrusts upon the viewer a disturbingly ambivalent consideration of the environmental, aesthetic and spiritual implications of the development of the land. Forsman's great interest in the various formulations that historical memory can take is reflected in the symbolic imagery in his paintings. "American Standard," depicting a poodle in the Nevada Desert, is intended as an allegory of European culture brought to the New World.
In this latest series of paintings on panel, Forsman fuses images from Vietnam and the United States. Skirting explicit references to the Vietnam War, even though the artist himself is a Vietnam veteran, Forsman instead reflects upon his recent travels between Vietnam and the United States. Aware of the current political environment, Forsman's work uses contemplative juxtaposition to allude to larger cultural histories. "Beast" places a buffalo, an archetypal image of both the grandeur and vulnerability of the American Western frontier, in a distinctly Vietnamese agricultural landscape. Similar to the earlier work "American Standard," "Beast" uses curious contextualization to suggest alternate readings of the relationship between our respective cultures. "Vietnamerican" contrasts two different generational images of Vietnamese men and the impact of both the passing of time as well as Americanization on their features. In his statement on the meaning of these works, Forsman writes that he is attempting to envision the American and Vietnamese cultures entwined, offering to viewers union where there was division and reconciliation where there was discord.
A native of western Idaho, Forsman's paintings can be found in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Denver Art Museum, Phoenix Art Museum, Wichita Art Museum, Knoxville Museum of Art, and Yellowstone Art Museum. A two-time recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts grant, Forsman's work has toured to such venerable institutions as the Mint Museum in Charlotte, North Carolina and the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. A professor of fine art at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Forsman is the author of Western Rider: Views from a Car Window and Arrested Rivers.