frances lerner


Frances Lerner
Jack Fischer Gallery, San Francisco, California
Recommendation by DeWitt Cheng

Frances Lerner, ''Family Business,'' 2012, oil on wooden panel, 34 x 44''.
Continuing through October 20, 2012

The increasing convergence of art with fashion, entertainment, technology and instant gratification
may now well be unstoppable, but the exceptions to that rule, serious painters like Frances Lerner,
suggest that art history may yet survive the general slide into cultural amnesia. The small oil paintings
on panel that made such a strong impression in the 2010 "New Images of Man and Woman" group
show (at Berkeley’s Alphonse Berber Gallery) are back in force in this beautifully installed solo show,
"Minor Characters and Sympathetic Criminals," featuring around two dozen eccentric works that are
full of feeling.

Employing the same puppets — acquired at flea markets — as before, Lerner (who is also a social
worker and illustrator) creates enigmatic narratives that recall satirical novels about victims of social
turmoil, namely refugees, not exactly a dead issue these days. One thinks of Hasek’s "Good Soldier
Schweik" and Gunter Grass’ "The Tin Drum" as literary analogues, and of Callot’s "The Miseries of
War" as a visual ancestor or precedent. Lerner’s Old Master technique, grisaille underpainting glazed
with color, results in a subdued palette of beiges, grays and greens, with brighter color accents,
reminiscent of the British visionary, Stanley Spencer. But her rendering of the doll-like figures in their
ramshackle environments is soft edged, almost plush. Lerner infuses her bravura painting with a rich
blend of innocence, menace and enchantment.

Jack Fischer Gallery