by James Foritano
Bosnian-born artist Tanja Softic inscribes her 10 large works on paper with the delicacy of a miniaturist and the scope of a cosmologist. Grace and tension, intimacy and transformation vie with each other so energetically to claim the viewer’s attention that one feeling seems to ignite its opposite, one glimpse open a shutter upon another.
Looking at “The Heart of the Matter” (2011), I can’t describe the sum of the materials — acrylic, pigment, chalk on paper mounted on panel as evoking more a soulful calm or an uneasy trans- formation. For moments, my apprehension rests on a waterfall of fruit-bearing branches, so boldly and delicately limned that I can’t suspend my belief in the hurly-burly of the present, the disruptions of time.
And yet, even as I rest, a more restless dimension is knocking. From the lower right corner, stylized orange flames lick at the two-tone grey of sky and branches. Portals glowing like embers open into my cool arbor with alien geometries: a glimpse of arches, the right angles of an archeological dig or a building razed to its floor plan. Uncertainties sprout in the claim I’ve staked; the lyrical turns elegiac.
My turns of emotion and conviction enact fragile boundaries that are every- where ingeniously visualized and then perforated in “Migrant Universe.”
The matter of “Time and Space” (2009) is every bit as magisterial as its title: tensing toward every corner of its 60” by 60” size, the web of a black hole swallows oval planets distorted almost to invisibility as they fly toward its center. And yet, untroubled by the boundaries of our daily three-dimensionality, commentaries swim both in front of and in back of this cosmic disruption, unconcerned and undisrupted. Two bowls buoyed up by their art-historical reference to Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid” spill their milk into thin streams with a gravity and whimsy that defies the cosmic sinkhole they are both of and not of.