Sara Frantz’s recent work explores the contemporary built environment once-removed. Her subjects tend toward the anonymous and ubiquitous: standard commercial buildings, often ornamented with eye-catching architectural “flair”, are carefully framed by trimmed hedges and lawns.
These locations are seemingly viewed from the (never explicitly shown) roadside, which indirectly reveals that extensive travel and chance encounters with varied architectural vernaculars is an important catalyst for Frantz’s process. This point of view also presents her buildings as closed, slightly mysterious tableaux: no one enters or exits and contents are never revealed.
The sense of distance is doubled by the way that Frantz fragments and re-configures the landscape through the prism of various styles and techniques. Flat color-field painting abuts dense, overtly physical marks and seamless gradients of graphite. The effect is one of near-collage, with the parsing of techniques held in tension with the unifying structure of landscape imagery: sky, horizon, and ground. By doing this, Frantz enters conversations about once-exalted Modernist pictorial styles, entangling them with local, familiar, and banal conditions. In effect, “high” art and “low” architecture co-mingle to form an inherently fractured, and yet still-beautiful, image of both our contemporary environment and our means of picturing it.