Genie Davis reviews Christine Frerichs’ Beacon in Artscene 2.22.17

(Klowden Mann Gallery, Culver City) Christine Frerichs creates layered, complex works that are rich, thick and textured, a world that dazzles with light. Titled “Beacon,” the artist creates a more distinguishable landscape imagery than in previous work, referencing the light and atmosphere of places which have emotional significance for her, such as Los Angeles, Tucson and New York.

The paintings in this exhibition are the result of what the artist terms “a conceptual and sensorial investigation of subjects such as the sea, the sky, and music.” The titular work “Beacon (Los Angeles),” depicts her 7th story studio window view, sun high in the sky, and rooftops dotted with satellite dishes. “Wet Moon, Clear Path (Tucson)” leads viewers through saguaro cactus toward a large, beckoning, iridescent moon. With the light source at the top of each piece reflecting pyramidal compositions in the manner of Renaissance sources, the works have an intrinsic harmony. In both paintings the sun and the moon are dominant features that compel our attention.

Frerichs’ work uses light to reflect, both literally and figuratively, a consciousness, an aliveness present within her landscapes. It is through this engagement that portions of her images get pushed into abstraction.

In “Bright Mist (Montauk),” low waves roll at the edge of the ocean. The upper section of the painting is a dense mix of blue, grey, and white, flecked with a sparkling aluminum leaf. The work underwent multiple iterations through the course of its execution, and conveys a sense of both solidity and lightness — a dynamic visual experience that evokes a sense both of calm and of movement. The ocean gains a presence that makes it appear almost sentient.

The idea of landscape — sea, sky, and light — as a living entity suffuses the exhibition, as does a liquidity that makes her paintings appear to shimmer and shift, vibrating from captured motion. Light and color dance rhythmically, shaping a sense of sound in visual form. Like the work of Arthur Dove and Wassily Kandinsky, Frerichs’ work conjures a visual language to describe something non-visual, something felt and heard, brush strokes as overlapping musical notes.

An important part of Frerichs intent is “… to give the viewer a dynamic experience, so that the paintings are appealing in a different ways when viewing them from 20 feet away, from 2 feet away, and from 2 inches away.” At this she succeeds. We feel compelled to experience a variety of perspectives in each piece, drawn to the dramatic light and dark luminosity of her works, as well as to the aforementioned triangular composition. It is the “sense of awe” that artists of that time sought to project which she seeks to replicate in contemporary terms. These paintings also draw inspiration from early Modernist painters in terms of her color palette and material application. The color, texture and the light that glows seemingly from within each canvas are all uniquely Frerichs’ own.

In each of the artist’s shining works, life and movement are simply waiting for their viewers to arrive.

Genie Davis

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