Anna Frlan’s exhibition at the Ottawa School of Art (January 10 – February 21, 2013) "Interbellum" addressed a subject not often engaged – the psychological and emotional remnants of war and the long-lasting consequences on families/people and how this trauma passes on through generations.
Fruits are used as a visual metaphor for explosives drawing on the etymology of the word grenade, (from Middle French grenade "pomegranate" (16c.), earlier grenate (12c.), from Old French pomegrenate (influenced by Spanish granada); so called because the many-seeded fruit suggested the powder-filled, fragmenting bomb, or from similarities of shape.) which she visually underscores by creating a pomegranate with grenade pin and lock. The work explores unaddressed or repressed trauma—several pomegranate grenades rest quietly on a fruit platter on the family’s bureau.
The exhibition was filled with rich poetry and texture underscored by her choice of medium - commercial grade steel. Anna wields a MIG welder alternately as pencil and chisel. She builds texture and form—sometimes delicately cutting flat steel to resemble lace, sometimes building density and volume that she later grinds into to the forms she imagines.
The result yields remarkable objects; the grey and silver steel communicate gesture, line and pressure much as a charcoal drawing on paper. It's uncanny because this is cold hard steel. I went back several times taking in the artistry and dedication to a single medium, the clever use of metaphor, and the pure fascination of how something we know to be so hard can be made to seem so soft and fluid.