Icelandic Art Center shares
Katrin Fridriks | Marseille, France
David Pluskwa Art Contemporain, 53 rue Grignan – 13006 Marseille
September 27th – October 27th, 2018
Opening on Wednesday 27th at 19:00
For over ten years, Katrin Fridriks has explored fundamental notions of human experience, like growth, speed, movement, energy and gravity, through the means of painting. Her indepth explorations are as much concerned with the pictorial medium and its chemistry as with the movements of her own body. Looking for new forms, her quest brought her to forge new tools for painting without a brush and lead her to develop new body techniques. Although her search for new forms is deep and personal, her work also accounts for the current state of the world.
In Supreme Goddesses, Fridriks experiments with mask painting and sets herself a unique challenge: reworking her color mixes so they can stick (and hold) on surfaces that are not flat. The result is a surprising visual dialogue between form and color. Supreme Goddesses therefore counteracts the paradigms of planarity and abstraction, which Modernism considered essential for painting. At the same time, Fridriks breaks free from the fundamental dogmas of Abstract Expressionism, an art movement that was championed by Modernism. She thus also takes her distance with a form of art to which her work most clearly relates.
With mask titles referring to Greek gods and goddesses like Artemis, Gaia or Hermes, Fridriks opens the way for another reading: she evokes the Greek origin of Western art. The work paradoxically refers to sculpture rather than painting: As we now know, the whiteness that the great archeologist J.J. Winckelmann formerly associated with the “noble simplicity and silent majesty” of ancient art was misleading – as statues were in fact painted. Beyond the conceptual emancipation and playful mockery of modernist dogmas that they represent, Fridriks’s polychromatic faces draw a bridge between abstraction and ancient art history. The mask of Gaia is the thread that links the various dimensions and series. The choice to represent the goddess of the earth evokes the artist’s concern for our planet.
The fact is that Fridriks increasingly tackles environmental issues in her works. While recent productions referred to the treatment of waste (Waste) and climate change (Emergency Blankets), Oil-Spills vs. Bleached Corals warns the viewers against environmental drifts causing the destruction of our ecosystems as well as the depletion of water resources. America First, a small series of paintings with sticks shaped like growing noses, speaks about the menace linked to men who care little about the truth and whose populist short-term policies are a danger for people everywhere in the world.
Fridriks’ studio is a place to withdraw from the world only at specific times of the artist’s creative process. The need for lonely moments of creation should by no means lead to reality denial. The artist shares her expectation with us: she wants viewers to go beyond the initial fascination for her art. We can then draw from the energy that her works contain and use it for positive impact on a world that desperately needs it. Oscillating between a formal painterly quest, a personal take on art history and a position on current matters, Fridriks work has a precise place in the contemporary world, without pedantry, it is both serious and playful. Her approach resolutely reflects the end of the second decade of the 21st century.
Dr. Klaus Speidel
About the artist
Katrin Fridriks is a contemporary Icelandic artist known for her swirled abstract paintings and prints. Inspired by the rugged volcanic landscapes of her homeland, Fridriks’s splashes of color and slick surfaces seem to expand and contract, as evinced in her painting Noble & Awakening Force (2016). “Iceland is so extreme, and we don’t call it the land of fire and ice for nothing. It is such a raw land,” she explained. “Most of the aesthetic in my painting originates there: rivers looking like veins from above, unpredictable geysers, melting glaciers, and molten lava. My painting is strongly connected with these natural phenomena, both technically and mentally.” Born on August 9, 1974 in Reykjavik, Iceland, she has gone on to be the subject of several exhibitions across Europe. Fridriks currently lives and works between Luxembourg City, Luxembourg and Paris, France.