“Smoke and Mirrors” creates this open space concept, in the mountains and bright cloudy sky in the top portion of the oil on panel. Then as the eyes follow the light it focuses on the detail in the lower right hand corner, where there is a simple village, very precisely done, nicer bigger houses, however, they appear empty. Being a fan of oil paintings, the way Forsman clearly illuminates the positive shapes, the houses, by lighting over the mountains and following the clear patch of sun-cover over the mountain village. He blurs the lines of the rolling mountains, while adding visual texture to grass (and moss) growing untamed overtaking them. So flawlessly, there is no trace of running oil. It’s simply well done and is complete in saying it has artist content.
I chose this piece because when I looked at, it took me a time to see it for something more than just a simple landscape piece. To start, the title of the work, “Smoke and Mirrors:” is a general metaphor for a deceptive insubstantial explanation. Just like magicians using smoke and mirrors to divert our attention, and have us see something else. Chuck Forsman does that same thing in this contemporary work. The village on top of the mountain suggests the focal point of the piece because the sunlight is all focused in the circle of the houses. It is clearly distinguishing that something more is going on in this housing development than what is seen. In other words, on the surface with radiant oil painting is beautiful and light hearted, but there is something more there, something we must really look for and think about.
At first look, Forsman’s painting doesn’t seem to have any clear symbols except the houses. So firstly, the houses symbolize the top; the top of the mountain, the top of society, or the top of the economic food chain. It stands for something we all strive for, and we see all this beauty around us, but these higher positions are still empty, and the day will keep passing by. Something that wouldn’t necessarily be considered a symbol except in this particular painting is the clouds that are illuminating the sky and causing a clear focal point. They symbolize hope, brightness. And the “Smoke and Mirrors” his way of hiding it from us is in a subtle simple landscape; deception is the theme. Chuck Forsman’s “Smoke and Mirrors” symbolizes our longing to be on top, but the obstacles, mountains we must face in order to get there, and few reach the top.
I felt as if I had to search for a meaning with this work, but once found it had great depth. And that’s the beauty of it; something big and powerful like a mountain can have the depth of an ocean. Chuck Forsman really shows the power of “being on top,” but in the most subtle way of doing so. I like it because it’s not easy…