• Margarita

    Jacobs Liknaitzky Gallery

    Cape Town 1990

    Works on this show were a celebratory explosion of paint on canvas. With iconographic irreverence, Francine Scialom Greenblatt lashed swathes of colour in defining shapes with expressionistic vigour. Hers was a clarion call to painters in defiance to all claiming ‘the death of painting’.

    Five homages to composers heralded magnificent sounds in concrete form, on large abstract land / sea / skyscapes. Growing up in a musical family (her mother, Paulette Scialom, sang in the chorus at the Cairo Opera House in the 40’s), these works highlighted the importance of sound in her practice.


    Multifaceted works palpably spoke to our sense of touch and taste. Theatrical references continued the pleasure principle with dramatic exuberance. Musical clues abounded – ‘Keyboard’, ‘Portals II’ (Tosca), ‘Nothing is as it Seems’ (Madame Butterfly) and ‘Operatic’. With artifice, the artist chose to remind the viewer of the omni present Voyeur, in the form of the Noh actor or Geisha. These paintings, together with ‘Enigma Wrapped in Mystery Shrouded in Secrets’ (Winston Churchill) underscored the artist’s multicultural make-up.

  • Angela, 1994

    “One to One”
    The Irma Stern Museum

    Cape Town 1994

    After the academic rigour of completing an MA at the University of Cape Town, FSG decided to embark on a series of portraits of people chosen serendipitously. Some famous, some unknown, some young, some not so young. The brief to self was to complete the work in one day, in an attempt to maintain a particular experience with the sitter, impossible to repeat with the passage of time or circumstance. 


    Prof. Neville Dubow, Head of the School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town presciently wrote:

    "We live in an era of virtual reality... whereby computer generated information simulates a real life experience… you would imagine that the old and time consuming process of portrait painting would have no place.

    And it is precisely this unpredictability, this sense of being on the edge between things recognisable, and things less recognisable, that makes the whole process so exciting."


  • Anthony

    Dubow continues:

    "This exhibition is called ‘One to One’. And that’s significant.

    One to one is different from, Me to You, And is very different from, You and Me – where the Me (the painter) is more important than the You (the sitter)

    …one where the one-to-one relationship becomes in Martin Buber’s famous phrase the I-Thou relationship.

    The I-Thou relationship is predicted on trust and respect. More than this it depends on a certain kind of love. Not a selfish kind, but a sharing kind."


  • Mozart, 1995

    Indiscretion of Memory

    AVA 1995

    This was an installation of 32 contiguous oil paintings sharing a common height of 79cm and a variety of widths, not exceeding 122cm. The desire of the artist was for visitors to engage curatorially and participate in re-positioning the order of pictures. By doing so, the viewer could shift personal responses and establish new relationships between the paintings themselves.

    The hierarchical significance of the gallery space is such that not one painting was touched during the full duration of the exhibition. This intimidating reality is frequently disempowering, forcing audiences to search for the written word or portable audio assistance before trusting their personal instincts and predispositions in response to paintings. 

    The artist was interested in the process of remembering... how in the telling, each protagonist usually has a different perspective or recollection of a shared event... how each ‘truth’ is inconsistent. 


  • Finger

    ‘Across and Down'

    Joao Ferreira Gallery. 1999

    Continuing her interest in the actual viewing transaction at play between a painting and audience, Francine Scialom Greenblatt here considers language in all its guises and implications.

    Linguistically for this artist, there is a loss in translation for many reasons. Paradoxically, the same English joke is not funny in French or Chinese. In an ideal world,  song would be in Italian, prayer in chant and curses in Yiddish. Similarly, painting requires a multitude of visual languages to enchant and seduce the viewer.


    With this body of work, the artist considered the dynamics of legibility... do we read from left to right? Right to left? Up / down? Do we actually look at alphabets in terms of significance or simply as signifiers of some aesthetic order? If text resonates only when legible as a storyline, what happens when the language is foreign and not understood? How do we process crosswords in Hindi or Russian? Is there a loss and possible anxiety in reading here too?

    And so with pictures. We think we can ‘read’ what we see... but in reality, is there a universal language that allows images to be understood? Perhaps that is the joy and challenge for the artist to explore.


  • ‘On Style and Seduction’, AVA. 2000

    ‘On Style and Seduction’

    AVA. 2000

    In a fresh, post-Apartheid South Africa, at a time when history was being reconstructed in an exciting new geopolitical scene, it was important for Francine Scialom Greenblatt to address her concerns  in nuanced statements eschewing grandiose agitprop declarations.

    The decision by the artist to incorporate the colour gold, with all its implications, into this body of work was a precarious one. What is the significance of GOLD? Capitalism? Catholicism? Ritual? In that context, it was a subversive device questioning the dynamics of power, past and present.  Images on round canvases were introduced creating a sculptural illusion which vibrated in space, disrupting the hushed stillness of the gallery. 


    In her opening speech, the author and commentator Hilary Reynolds quoted the Czechoslovakian poet and writer Rainer Maria Rilke: ‘To be an artist means not to compute or count; it means to ripen as the tree, which does not force its sap, but stands unshaken in the storms of spring with no fear that summer may not follow, it will come regardless.’


  • Sensori, 2003

    ‘To my Beloved’

    AVA 2003
    "Francine Scialom Greenblatt’s ‘To My Beloved’ is dedicated to the memory of her deceased husband, and her leitmotif, the rose, emphasises the works' elegiac freight and commemorative function. Nothing could embody the artist’s sense of love’s tragic fragility more eloquently than the rose, which states both Carpe Diem and Memento Mori. Scialom Greenblatt endows the bloom with soft, yielding pliancy, it becomes an analogue for female flesh, and enmeshes the concept of Eros and that of Thanatos. Her lush sensuality remains intact, but the unctuous, buttery impasto and singing colour contrast past felicity with present vacancy, and blend lyricism with passionate lament."

    - Lloyd Pollak ARTTHROB REVIEWS CAPE 2003
  • Sogno

    In opening this exhibition, Prof Neville Dubow, Head of Michaelis, University of Cape Town, stated the following:

    'There can be few who are unaware of the fact that this past year has been a traumatic one for Francine. She has suffered a deep personal loss with the death of her beloved husband, Frank. But even the grievous loss of a life partner does not change the essence of the compulsion that drives the art that she makes. This exhibition is a testament to the personal courage and depth of the inner compulsion that has driven her art. In her research document she wrote that “interesting art... suggests a private universe which is vitally meaningful and compelling to the maker. In entering another’s personal space, the viewer thus begins a voyeuristic transaction.

    Fair enough. But FSG extends this to include herself as creator/onlooker. She is both creator and voyeur of her own private universe. An auto-voyeur, or to be more precise, the French concept of auteur / voyeur.

  • Avoir, 2002

    This is a risk-taking enterprise. Her range of references is wide and culturally diverse. In this show you will find a number of perceptive keyhole portraits... as well as quotations from the art of Egypt, Greece and Rome. Besides their sexual connotations, her rose paintings, which constitute the major theme of the show, also explore states of consciousness... what her work does is to rework the theme of ‘Roman de la Rose’ – that 13th century allegory on the art of love, which can also be seen as a reflection of contemporary life.

    What FSG does is to give painterly flesh to that allegory in her own inimitable way. Because the subject matter is so palpably physical, so sensuous in its drive and its execution, the fact is often overlooked that there is a well thought out theoretical basis that underpins it.’


    Neville Dubow 13.10.03

  • Over the years of her brilliant career as a painter, many people have felt a frisson of discomfort at the lush ‘explicitness’ of her imposing imagery. Powered by sensual brush gestures, vibrant colours often whipped onto large canvases, Scialom Greenblatt’s paintings connect with our conscience where taboos are held up and interrogated.” 

    Through Flesh We Move Toward The Light’ - Melvyn Minnar 23.10.03