Both Naughty & Nice at Fanny Bostrom’s Picnic

Picnic, Bostrom’s first solo exhibition on display at 31Grand, allows the viewer to step into her whimsical, summer-camp world.

poster for Fanny Bostrom Exhibition

Fanny Bostrom Exhibition

at 31 Grand
in the Lower East Side area
This event has ended - (2008-05-29 - 2008-06-28)

In Reviews by Kristen Hewitt 2008-06-13 print

Fanny Bostrom, Outing (2008), acrylic on canvas, 72 x 92 in.

We can’t all be Lilliputian imps, wiling away the days in a world of rainbows, fishing naked from gem-toned treetops and smoking Technicolor pipes. But Swedish artist Fanny Bostrom’s “Picnic” certainly inspires us to climb into one of her paintings and try.

Picnic, Bostrom’s first solo exhibition on display at 31Grand, allows the viewer to step into her whimsical, summer-camp world. It features a life-sized patchwork quilt-draped teepee and log cabin, just large enough to walk into. Along with the split log benches and lanterns situated around the gallery, it creates a charmingly rustic scene suiting the “arts-and-crafts” style doodles and quilted pendants on the walls.

Bostrom’s pendants epitomize “homemade”: They feature cutouts and silhouettes in colored paper, notebook paper, and on old letters. The simplicity of Bostrom’s nostalgic style seems to solidify her identity as an outsider artist. It is not difficult to picture a child sitting on the floor at camp cutting out these pictures of trees, snails, and little girls (all continuing motifs in the exhibit) as if reflecting the pride in and borderline obsession with the first image she has figured out how to draw on her own.

Fanny Bostrom, 'Picnic' (2008), acrylic on canvas, 72 x 60 in.

The paintings, too, reflect the artist’s fixation with these recurring themes, particularly with that of plump, impish little girls, hundreds of which (all multi-colored and naked except for the occasional hat or spacesuit) busily fill her whimsical landscapes. Each one climbing a tree, tunneling for treasure, snorkeling, hot-dog roasting, fishing (sometimes in mid-air) or tightrope walking.

The work reveals a certain imperviousness to a more “grown-up” style, as if she were playing the part of a particularly imaginative and attentive child set gleefully loose in an artist’s studio. Yet the work’s innocent simplicity belies a fastidious attention to a darker world. There is something slightly sinister or even existential lurking behind all of the hubbub. It may just be that so many of the naked imps are smoking pipes, or it might be the redhead in the corner of the painting, “Picnic,” quietly passed out on the ground next to some telling glass bottles. There are suggestions of cannibalism too, with the image of girl-sized hot dogs walking around roasting hot dogs, which makes the girls’ activity seem a bit less innocent. Despite the sheer volume of characters at play in each scene, they rarely interact and seem myopically involved in their own activities.

It is up to the viewer to explore both the whimsy and deeper concerns of Bostrom’s strange world in a playful show that delights, disturbs, and intrigues.

Fanny Bostrom is Swedish-born and currently lives in New York. Picnic is her first solo exhibit, although she was part of a group exhibit at 31Grand in 2006. Exhibit is open from May 29 through June 28, 2008.

Artist’s site

Kristen Hewitt

Kristen Hewitt. Kristen is from Chicago, is one year away from getting a bachelors degree in English/creative writing at Bates College in Maine, and is living in New York for the summer. She loves traveling and attempting to learn languages and reading lots and hiking and playing the fiddle. And grapefruit. » See other writings


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