Christine Frerichs: Living Landscapes

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At Klowden Mann opening March 11th, Christine Frerichs living landscapes are layered with light and darkness, textured and rich oil and acrylics that vibrate with light. In her dazzling Beacon, she creates a series of landscapes filled with the light and atmosphere of places which have emotional significance for her, including Los Angeles, Tucson, and New York.

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“Beacon (Los Angeles),” depicts her 7th story studio window view, sun high in the sky. “Wet Moon, Clear Path (Tucson)” leads viewers through saguaro cactus toward a large, beckoning, almost iridescent moon. Both works use “pyramidal compositions with the light source at the top, reflecting harmony and balance,” Frerichs relates.

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A sense of both stability and movement carries through her work, as does what she terms her “theme of light.” She uses light to refer to consciousness, aliveness, or a sentient state of being.

In “Bright Mist (Montauk),” low waves roll at the edge of the sea. A potent mix of blue, grey, and white, flecked with a sparkling aluminum leaf, the work offers a dynamic visual experience for the viewer. The painting took Frerichs two years to complete, and went through many different iterations. “It was as if the weather changed in the painting month after month,” she explains. “Sometimes it was clear and sunny, then I’d paint in the fog so densely that the horizon and three-quarters of the waves at bottom were lost, then it would emerge again.”

To the viewer, there is a shift in perception when viewing the work for an extended period, one which may be derived from the artist’s shifting of her own creation as she worked to complete it. “I hope it is experienced by others in the way that I experience it….in that it is a space at the edge of a calm sea, where it feels like you can stand firmly on the ground while gazing up into the beautiful bright flickering light of the sky.” The painting was inspired by a trip to Montauk, Long Island. “There were so many brilliant artists who have lived on Long Island for centuries and I could feel it in the air, see them in the trees, and thought about them while watching the calm Atlantic,” she says.

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Each of Frerichs’ works emphasize vibrate with captured motion; capturing a sense of sound in shimmering visual form.

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“Some of my favorite painters, Arthur Dove and Kandinsky specifically, both had to come up with a visual language to describe something non-visual, something felt and heard, but not seen,” Frerichs says. There is the emotional quality of sound and music in her work, too. She feels that classical music functions in a similar way to abstract painting, using formal elements to create a non-narrative feeling. In her studio, she frequently listens to Bach and Chopin. “I am attracted to the complicated overlapping rhythms and themes, the rolling and relentless waves….really, it’s a lot like the ocean,” she asserts.

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Frerich captures an aliveness in her work that she hopes will speak to the aliveness in every viewer. “So whether my painting is more representational – a picture of the sea, or more abstract, like ‘Silent Night,’, which takes the title from the song, I’d like there to be a sense of movement in the material of it,” she says. “I want 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.”

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Frerichs says she has been inspired by what she feels are the two most exciting moments in the history of oil painting, the Renaissance and Early Modernism. Viewers can see the influence of the Renaissance in her works, the dramatic light and dark and luminosity of the period, as well as the sense of triangular composition.

“These paintings are inspired by, and hope to recreate a feeling of awe, much like religious paintings of the Renaissance. So I am using light, whether it be the sun, moon, bright mist, or an abstract cluster of light paint in my work in a similar way that light has often been used in these types of religious or spiritual paintings,” Frerichs says. Her works evoke her own personal understanding of light, as a kind of consciousness and self-expression.

Early Modernism comes into play particularly with the artist’s palette. “In terms of color and material application, I’m most inspired by the earthy browns and blues and luminous pinks and peaches of Early Modernist painters like Arthur Dove, Georgia O’Keeffe, Courbet, Vincent Van Gogh and always, Monet.” Frerichs was also influenced by these painters’ representation of landscape.

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“They each found a kind of inherent abstraction in the landscape, and brought it to our attention, whether it was Courbet’s paintings of waves, making them look more like strong static sculptures than liquid forms, or Van Gogh using the same active brushwork when painting the grass as when painting the sky, to remind us that air has life and movement too, even if we can’t always see it,” Frerichs relates.

Catch the wave of light. Klowden Mann is located at 6023 Washington Blvd. in Culver City.

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