Easton Miller interviews Christine Frerichs for Painting in L.A. 7.2.13
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.
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.