Richmond-based photographer and world traveler Regula Franz shoots exotic locations while avoiding the temptation to turn the picturesque into postcard scenery. In Southeast Asia, the location for most of the shots in "Sacred Encounters" at Corporate &Museum Frame, evidence of strange pasts and foreign belief systems surface in practically every aspect of each culture's landscape.
But Franz doesn't just point her camera at sights unfamiliar to a Western eye, as most gawkers abroad might. She goes for what's universally recognizable. In "Twelfth Moon Festival," she catches nighttime festival-goers as they look into a field of burning candles, treating the scene less as a cultural curiosity than as a moment of awe and anticipation that is instantly familiar.
Franz revels in the abundance of rich colors, textures and patterns in this region, as much for their bearing of history and context as for the formal possibilities they provide for her camera. A skillful composer, Franz frames these colors, textures, darks and lights as if she had painted them herself. In "Royal Funerary Chapel," the entire composition builds upon a thin sliver of a blue door that cuts vertically through the photograph. Soft-focus lenses or a computer program didn't create the lush, painterly quality of these shots just an acute awareness of how even the slightest wisp of a shadow can influence an image.
This artist's loose, gestural style easily wins over the eye and certainly helps to convince us that these distant places aren't so alien. S
Regula Franz's "Sacred Encounters" will be showing at Corporate and Museum Frame, 301 W. Broad St., through Oct. 27.