Issue 23  Vol. 6  Year 2015

Megan Abrahams reviews Christine Frerichs' 'Serenade' in ARTPULSE Magazine

 

Christine Frerichs: Serenade 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The metaphor of music permeates this series of paintings by Christine Frerichs -- characterized as the are by mood,

the gradation of color building towards crescendo, composition approached with almost mathmatical deliberation

and flowing lyricism of line.  The artist connected this series to music, in particular, music as a statement of romantic love.  Fittingly, the exhibit is named "Serenade", in reference to one of the largest paintings.  "This body of work touched on how abstraction can stem from emotive states," the artist said, in a one-on-one conversation at the gallery during the run of her show.  

 

Riveting for their layered complexity, richness of texture and dramatic color, the paintings are also infused with narrative significance like painted memoir.  For Frerichs, the larger canvases - those approaching the size of a human body - are symbolic portraits, abstract embodiments of a person or people.  In them, the artist delves into the feelings evoked by relationships, and the building of personal identity.

 

The genesis of this recent work is a previous series of ten paintings, in which Frerichs created allegorical motifs to describe what she calls, "the stages individuals do through to become who we are."  Under each canvas, she articulated a figure 8, an abstracted rendition of the human form.  In the new series, Frerichs re-contextualized the figure 8 further, breaking it down into subtle repeated lines.  Beginning with a thick later of acrylic modeling paste, she carved grooves, creating a figure 8 pattern based on the scale of her own body.  The curved lines repeat like ripples.  Partly derived from the artist's observations of how ocean tides meet, creating cross-currents that may be gentle or full of friction, the paintings are also meant to represent the dynamic between partners in a relationship.  

 

The underlying concept was also inspired by Brancusi's sculpture, The Kiss, in which two integrated figures are carved from a single stone.  In each painting, the artist joined two canvases to construct one composition, dividing the symbolic figure in half.  The half figures represent two beings coming together, forming a whole.  Alluding to the inherent paradox in the way the halves reflect, Frerichs said "The meeting point is the place they split."

 

Beyond the abstract reference to figures, the works evoke landscape, water and sky, connoting the light and atmosphere of New York, Lake Tahoe and Los Angeles -- places with special emotional meaning in the artist's life.  Up close, the fine marks across the surface almost appear pointillist in technique.  From a distance, the canvases glow with diffused light -- a gradation of color and intensity with a palette ranging from modulated light-filled pastels to dark colors with depth and intensity, expressing an emotional spectrum from ecstasy to heartbreak.

 

A series of smaller paintings, (each 8.5 x 11 inches, oil on canvas_ in the gallery's project room, are like letters Frerichs has written to herself, or, "diagrams to describe relationships I've had in my life, or loves or places I've been."  Like studies, they are light-hearted steppingstones to the stunning emotionally charged larger works -- the profound rendition of the artist's unbridled introspection.

 

   (March 7 - April 11, 2015) 
 

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May 2015

James Scarborough reviews Christine Frerichs' 'Serenade' in art ltd

 

Christine Frerichs: “Serenade” at Klowden Mann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


With “Serenade,” her second solo show at Klowden Mann, Christine Frerichs offers deeply felt analyses of landscapes. She works in oil, acrylic, and wax. Although their surfaces are gritty, as if they’ve been blasted with stucco, there’s serenity to each piece. This serenity comes from the works’ narrow color range and the hypnotic, semicircular lines that characterize each composition. In the context of landscapes, these lines suggest atmospheric millibars, tectonic fault lines, or topographic contour lines. Hers is the work of patience and stillness. She might render the atmospheres with an impressionistic brushstroke, however Frerichs’ time frame is far from fleeting. She begins with a memory of each place and then keeps looking and waiting, to define its underlying structure.

The Light between Us (Lake Tahoe) (all works cited 2015, except where noted) features a low horizon line that allows room for an immense sky. The cloudy sky is blue and pink, bruised. Vertical rows of some landscape feature an orderly recession into the background, leading to the snow-capped Sierras. Seen together, the ground and sky roil with ephemeral, mortal fury. The top of the picture, though, is blue, the color of eternity. Factor in the curving textured lines that amplify the composition’s structure and you’ve got a visual document that attests to knowledge acquired over and perhaps in spite of time. Her lines are less dramatic, less emotive than those in van Gogh’s Starry Night (1889). Hers stabilize the composition while those of the Dutchman seem to want to shatter it. Both represent vastly different states of mind. Other work uses a diptych format to great symbolic effect. On Love (For Agnes Martin) and Warm Winter Kiss (for Constantin Brancusi) reference the human figure. The space where the two canvases join is suffused with warm, convivial color, suggesting her affection for the two artists. Similarly, in Serenade (2014) and Aubade (2), the co-joining of the two parts of the diptych suggests the comingling of two people in the evening and at dawn.

There are 17 pieces in the show. Some are as large as six-by-seven feet while others are as small as a piece of typing paper. The large ones engulf, even overwhelm, the viewer. The smaller ones she calls letters. That’s a nice metaphor for the show. Letters, some epic, some brief, all presenting immediate impressions of something, of someone, long after the letter is written.

 

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April 2015

Bridget Gleeson reviews Christine Frerichs’ Serenade in Artsy Editorial

 

A Painter Creates Her Own Materials to Illustrate Personal Memories.

 

“The brain appears to possess a special area which we might call poetic memory and which records everything that charms or touches us, that makes our lives beautiful” wrote Czech author Milan Kundera. Poetic memory, mysterious and heartbreaking, lies at the heart of Christine Frerichs’ paintings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Installation view of “Christine Frerichs: Serenade” at Klowden Mann, Culver City.

 

One artist might try to recreate the way the sky looked over the ocean. A filmmaker might try to portray Manhattan in the moments before sunrise. Frerichs has her own memories—the things that made her life beautiful—the color of a lavender sweater her late mother used to wear, the particular shade of green of grass in Bryant Park. The Los Angeles-based painter uses these images as the basis for her highly textural abstract paintings. Her latest collection, “Serenade,” is now on view at Klowden Mann.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                              

                               “Aubade (2)” 2015 Klowden Mann

 

Her process is intuitive and technically complex, starting with the materials. Like a dream that’s difficult to describe in words, memory is often difficult to capture or convey to others—which is why Frerichs has created a custom-made paint based on the tone of her own flesh, and a homemade substance that she calls A.C.P.—short for Activated Carbon Paint. The medium is a thick congealing agent that adds a particular texture and spirit to several of the featured works, including Pair (August clouds over Los Angeles) (2014). Using these one-of-a-kind materials as well as more conventional acrylic, oil, and wax, Frerichs builds up layers of material. While the colors represent people or places, the works appear abstract yet didactic, telling stories of relationships and past events.

 

One artist might try to recreate the way the sky looked over the ocean. A filmmaker might try to portray Manhattan in the moments before sunrise. Frerichs has her own memories—the things that made her life beautiful—the color of a lavender sweater her late mother used to wear, the particular shade of green of grass in Bryant Park. The Los Angeles-based painter uses these images as the basis for her highly textural abstract paintings. Her latest collection, “Serenade,” is now on view at Klowden Mann.

 

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February 2015

Preview of Christine Frerichs Serenade in Artscene by Andy Brumer

 

Christine Frerichs
Klowden Mann Gallery, Culver City, California
Preview by Andy Brumer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continuing through April 11, 2015

The matter of artistic influence unfolds with poetic grace, intellectual rigor, as well as a fierce quality of engagement in this collection of paintings by the young and immensely talented Christine Frerichs. In her large sturdy, colorful, yet tender mixed media works on canvas, all displaying thick, textured layers of paint often scarred and molded into sculptural relief, one readily perceives echoes of Jackson Pollock, Larry Poons, Jay DeFeo, Anselm Kiefer, Antoni Tapies, the later work of Brice Marden and even the cosmic creaminess of Vincent Van Gogh. However, unlike the angst ridden struggle with one’s artistic precursors, the likes of which the literary critic Harold Bloom analyzes in his book "The Anxiety of Influence," Frerich’s paintings all present both feeling and proof of confident independence.

In a statement, Frerichs also speaks of Agnes Martin as a painter who has meant much to her. While Martin’s muted aesthetic seems at opposite ends of Frerich’s tactile and opulent spectrum, the two artists clearly share a tone poet’s sensitivity to color’s subtle inflections, as well as the blending of feminine and masculine energies into works symbolizing human wholeness.  The theme of the personality’s integration receives further augmentation as each painting consists of two canvases positioned closely together side by side, with the shared vertical crack between them serving as a visual caesura that paradoxically separates and welds the halves together. The metaphor may be of a conversation between twins, lovers or any two people truly listening to and caring for one another.

Several of the works here, such as “On Love (for Agnes Martin),” present a chevron pattern of thick and lumpy paint that falls vertically then swerves and morphs into concentric swirling arcs replete with the enveloping folds of a comforter crumpled on a bed. In “Aubade (2)” the artist superimposes faintly washed sections of iridescent color — the luminous scrim of a sunrise — over and into the painting’s densely laid foundation to add another layer of visual delight.

In “The Light Between US (Lake Tahoe)” Frerichs inlays into her swooping chevron the image an expansive apocalyptic landscape that pulses with virulent cloud forms and is slashed by a row of blotchy cross-hashed mountain shapes. The entire image rises from a floor of golden earthy brown bricks that penetrates the scene like a road. It's a dynamic drama of primal creation and destruction of Wagnerian proportions.

A few smaller canvases (8 1/2 by 11 inches) are improvisational works on single canvases. In these Frerichs explores color and compositional combinations that are by turns visually sophisticated and primitive. In these, as well as in a few of her larger works, Frerichs integrates a homemade recipe of a substance she calls A.C.P., which stands for Activated Carbon Paint. Its main ingredient is found in things like the tops of Brita Water Filters. This material strains nothing out but rather lets a kind of primal ooze in. It’s a congealing element that supports, fertilizes, and almost bruises the paintings with what the Spanish poet Garcia Lorca called “duende,” meaning a heightened state of soul. It’s also the same energy that pervades and characterizes all of the work in this powerful and riveting show.

Published courtesy of ArtSceneCal ©2015
 

 

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July 2013

Christine Frerichs: The Conversation– reviewed by Ellen C. Caldwell for New American Paintings

 

Overlapping Disjuncture: Christine Frerichs at gallery km, by New American Paintings

 

Christine Frerichs’ current solo show “The Conversation” at gallery km is dynamic, new, and not to be missed.

The main gallery space is filled with ten large 44 x 34 paintings that are three-dimensional, visually enticing, and inviting.  At first glance, they do not appear to have a unified theme, as they vary fairly drastically in color and abstract subject. Ellen C. Caldwell, Los Angeles Contributor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
But some of the show’s connection lies in the details: figure eights emanate from the center of each painting, and they are positioned at just a height so that visitors’ belly buttons line up with the very center of the paintings (and of the figure eight), making visitors’ eye levels line up with the center of the top circle of the elliptical shapes underlying each painting.

Frerichs plays with something of a centripetal force here and emphasizes the physicality of her paintings in this way.  And they are strangely grounding because of this – though it is such a subtle aspect of the work, it is not something that one would necessarily pick up on consciously.

 

Frerichs also uses color in completely different and seemingly disjointed ways throughout her body of work.  Some paintings are composed of bright colors, geometric lines, and serpentine shapes that come out at the viewer almost like a hologram, while others are filled with more earthy colored pastels and neutrals that resemble allusions to naturalistic surfaces like dirt, sand, or even a far-off planet.  There are smoke and cloud-like shapes that seem to suggest explosions or fierce sprays of water amidst highly structured lines and diagonal grids.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

I left unsure of what I was seeing, but loving the feel, texture, and abstraction itself.  There is a playfulness in Frerichs works that cannot be denied, but at the same time, there is also a maturity that overrides it beautifully and complexly.  Frerichs uses a combination of oil, acrylic, spray paint, and activated carbon paint (ACP) that just teeters on the edge of almost feeling outdated in terms of a more traditional practice and process, but they are revolutionary and radical in their final outcomes and aesthetic.

 

Overall, the show is a joy to experience and explore.  My favorite moments laid in the details, in places such as the tiny dots strewn throughout her works like a breadcrumb trail, the geometric arrows that puncture her paintings in works like The Conversation (#9), and in the X and O shapes found in both the figure eight and serpentine lines that interact between tiny targets in The Conversation (#5).  Equally moving and enticing were the firework-like explosions overlaying the patriotic stripes in The Conversation (#3) – and in such a work, lies Frerichs’ typically amazing moments of overlap and disjuncture.

 

 

 

Frerichs has exhibited at ACME, CB1 Gallery, Kaycee Olsen Gallery, and Young Art in Los Angeles, Duchess Presents in Chicago, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tucson, among others, and is newly represented by gallery km. Her work has been reviewed by ArtForum and The Los Angeles Times, and published in New American Paintings. She received her M.F.A. from U.C. Riverside in 2009, and has taught at U.C. Riverside and U.C. Irvine, and is currently Senior Lecturer at Otis College of Art and Design and Adjunct Faculty at East Los Angeles College.

 

Frerichs’ show runs at gallery km through July 27th with an artist talk and walkthrough this Saturday, June 29th.  Bettina Hubby’s solo show opens there September 7th. 

 

Ellen C. Caldwell is an LA-based art historian, writer, and editor.

 

 

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Christine Frerichs | The Conversation – installation view. Photo by Lee Thompson, courtesy of gallery km.

June 2013

Easton Miller interviews Christine Frerichs for Painting in L.A.

 

A Conversation With Christine Frerichs

By Easton Miller

 

I recently had the pleasure of visiting with artist Christine Frerichs before the opening of her solo show at Gallery KM on Saturday, June 15th.  A few beers were imbibed and a good conversation was had.  Born and raised in the Los Angeles area, Frerichs approaches painting with an eye for design and an acute understanding of how materials can be used to elicit a guided response from the viewer.  Much of the work I saw walks a delicate line between abstraction and representation in a way that establishes an entry point without being excessively inviting.  There is an inherent willingness to embrace spontaneity in the work, but the literal and figurative realization of form through a self-imposed structure creates a beautifully conflicted narrative that is emblematic of life in general.

Studio view.  Work by Christine Frerichs.

Frerichs' work contains these amazing moments where materials break down and reveal themselves in their former state.  A visual representation of the way in which memories and experiences compile themselves to form the person we somehow become.  One section of the gallery features a collection of ten paintings aptly titled The Conversation (#1-10).  There is a consistently buried structural foundation that is present throughout the series, but the repetition is not off-putting.  Rather, it seems to function as a reminder that people are forever imprinted by the decisions made or not made within the time we are given.  As each subsequently numbered painting should indicate, there is a linear progression as the series continues.  Beginning with The Conversation (#1), the inception of Frerichs' life gently gives way to adolescence, early adulthood, and so on - each painting extracting the most potent aspect of the memories associated with these points in her life.  The series ends on a cliffhanger with the painting The Conversation (#10) and the artist in present day.  There is an aphorism that comes to mind, and bears mentioning -  "If we distance ourselves too far from the past...we are bound to repeat it." Frerichs seems to be keenly aware of this.

 

The secondary gallery features a number of smaller works and one large painting that is comprised of two canvases.  The later statement may initially sound like an inherent contradiction, but I asked Frerichs to provide contextual insight into how this and other choices were made.

Studio view.  Work by Christine Frerichs.

Easton Miller: Whether it is a specific palette of colors, or the recurrent symbol beneath each painting in The Conversation series, there are repeated elements throughout your work.  When did this method first become a tool you were interested in using within your practice?

Christine Frerichs: For the past 5 years, I've been using motifs in my paintings such as storm clouds, patterns of lines and dots, symbolic colors, and abstracted forms that reference the human body, all to represent recurring themes and feeling I've experienced in my life with pleasure, loss, vulnerability, and control.  the newest body of work, The Conversation, is a series of ten mid-sized mixed-media paintings that use these colors and forms to tell the story of reconciling and expressing the various sides of oneself on an emotional level.  The repetitive controlled line work that functioned as veils or obstacles in my work from 2009-2012 is present in this new series, through often serving as a 'backdrop' or 'open curtains' to more playful and improvisational imagery, such as the full color dancing line seen in (#1) and the thickly painted beam of light in (#2) which both reappear in different forms throughout the series.

EM: Are there specific connotations behind the colors you choose, or is your process of selection more general?

CF: The palette for these paintings is determined by personal associations I make with each color, and I'll use each color as a stand-in for a particular person, place, object, or feeling.  So for example, the mixed blue represents a cool, controlled figure, the vibrant warm red represents intensity and strength, and the flesh tint is custom-mixed to match to my own skin color and represents the surface, corporeal version of myself.

EM: Based on the level of consideration you've placed on your color selections I would assume that scale holds an equal level of significance in the work?

CF: Definitely.  Ultimately, these paintings are portraits, so I reference the human body by beginning each work with a thick layer of acrylic modeling paste, which I carve grooves into, creating a figure 8 patten.  The measurements of this figure 8 is based on my own body, with the top loop at eye level and the base loop at my navel.

EM: There is an inherent build up of emotional and aesthetic layers in your paintings - how do you view this compilation on an ideological level?

CF: With this body of work, I wanted to find a way to create abstracted portraits that do exactly what you say - describe at once the physical and emotional aspects of oneself through the use of symbolic color, form, and composition.  Instead of the body acting as the exterior shell for one's interior thoughts and feelings, I wanted to try flipping it inside out.  So the abstracted body form in these paintings is the base layer and superimposed on that textured foundation is imagery and mark-making which oscillate between spontaneous eruptions of color, light, and form as seen into controlled lines and patterns, reflecting the range of form that emotion can take, both in a painting and in our lives.  Anger, as with joy, can erupt explosively as exaggerated performance, and too as a restrained seizing of the body.  My use of materials also reflects this idea of a range of self and our capacity for transformation on an emotional level.  Oil paint and spray paint are stretched to their physical limits, transmuted into thick clotted dabs, thinned and thrown from a bucket, or carefully layered in translucent veils of glassy color.

EM: It's obvious that you have a deep routed fascination with the associative properties of materials.  As a 'materials nerd' myself, I have to ask what you've used to create the sense of depth in the black areas in many of your paintings?

 

CF: I use a paint material I developed in 2008 called Activated Carbon Paint (ACP).  This deep matte black paint is made with activated carbon, a porous material used primarily in water and air filtration systems, oral ingestion for poison treatment or overdoses, and gas purification.  Visually, the use of ACP alongside vibrant colors creates an incredible sense of depth and contrast in the paintings.  Metaphorically, it furthers the content of transformation and renewal.

 

Studio view.  Work by Christine Frerichs.

EM: I love the tension created between the borderline scientific approach to your material development coupled with the romantic reasoning behind your decisions.  Speaking of coupling, could you talk a bit about how you came to the decision of presenting two canvases as one painting, and what the significance of this gesture means to you?

CF: As you mentioned, the 'paired' paintings are made by placing two stretched canvases of the same size side-by-side with their edges touching.  I began working on them a year ago, concurrently with The Conversation series, as a way of exploring the relationship between two people - two 'bodies' - as opposed to the singular portrait in The Conversation paintings.  These paired paintings also use imagery of storm clouds, the sea, abstract symbols of color, light, and darkness, to express the experience of connecting on an emotional level with another person, and feelings of vulnerability and intimacy.  The human body, represented as a textured figure 8 pattern underneath the painted imagery in The Conversation is also present in these paired paintings yet there are two 'bodies' now, one on each canvas.  Visually, I wanted to use this sub-texture to bring the focus to the 'center' of the paired paintings, where the two canvases/bodies meet.

Studio view.  Work by Christine Frerichs.

EM: What was the impetus of this decision?

CF: The formal structure of the paintings were inspired by two things.  One was spending much of this past summer on the East Coast in Fire Island and watching the way the tides moving in different directions met in the ocean and how those crosscurrents would sometimes meet gently and other times with friction.  Two Friends at the Sea and Pair (The Talk 1 and 2) are portraits of that dynamic that occurs between two people in a relationship.  The other inspiration for the form of these paired paintings is Brancusi's sculptural series The Kiss (1907-1925).  The way he composed and sculpted the embrace of these two figures is so tender, with their arms crossing over one another's bodies, binding the two two together.  It's  a simplistic form, clunky even, yet the way he used so few marks and forms to lock these figures together feels elegant and extremely emotive.  I reference Brancusi's composition with my paintings Pair (The Kiss 1 and 2) and use two thickly painted beams of colored light (a motif seen in The Conversation) as the two crossing 'arms', which creates that intense connection between the two canvases.

Christine Frerichs Pair (The Kiss 2)  oil, acrylic and ACP on two canvases,  11 x 17 inches   2013

EM: I see an intense connection between all of the works regardless of their spatial proximity to one another.  That said, there is definitely less of a direct narrative in the smaller works than what I've seen in many of your larger paintings.  Do you notice a difference in your approach with the more diminutive works - both aesthetically and ideologically?

 

CF: I approach both my larger and smaller works in a similar way, in terms of my use of color, how I compose an image, what meaning it carries, and the emotion I'd like to get across to the viewer.  I would say that one difference between my 8.5 x 11 inch paintings and these larger ones is the relationship between the canvas size and the size of one's body.  Once a canvas becomes the size of one's body or the size of a doorway, for me it becomes less of an 'example' of a person, and more of an abstract embodiment of that person (or people).  I see the 8.5 x 11 inch paintings more as diagrams or letters, because of their relationship to the familiar size of a sheet of paper.

 

EM: Well...we've covered process, palette, ideological/aesthetic associations, and scale.  I'm pretty satisfied with the way things have gone.  Do you feel good about it?

 

CF: I do feel good (laughs).

 

EM: Thanks for taking the time to peel back some of the layers in your work!

 

CF: It's my pleasure, thank you for the chance to do so!

Studio view.  Work by Christine Frerichs.

As previously noted, Frerichs' work is currently on display at Gallery KM in Santa Monica until July 27th.  In addition, Gallery KM will be hosting an artist talk and exhibition walk through on Saturday, June 29th at 5:30 pm.  Frerichs is also exhibiting in a group show at Kevin Kavanagh Gallery in Dublin until June 27th.

 

As is the case with almost all art documentation, pictures do not do the work justice.  If you happen to be in either city during the aforementioned dates I strongly encourage you to set aside some time to see the work in person.

 

**If you can't attend the exhibition, but you'd like to see more of Frerichs' work - you can do so at www.christinefrerichs.com

 

Easton Miller is an artist and writer based in Los Angeles, CA.

 

(Image at top: Christine Frerichs in her studio.)

 

 

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