With his “peinture automatique” Bernard Frize takes a unique stand in the discussion on contemporary abstract painting. The exhibition shows a selection of works from various work cycles over the past three years that documents the experimental process of his painting.
The work cycles are the result of different experimental arrangements being tested parallel to each other. The works stand out for the transparency of the painting processes – even down to the preparatory drawing in pencil – yet they constantly urge the viewer to wonder how they are made. The image of an object woven, braided, or crocheted out of different colored strands is the result of a choreography of sorts. Four people, on the average, using one paintbrush which they pass on to the next person, alternately paint the woven, knotted, or braided pattern. As a painter Bernard Frize is an alchemist, he is open to the element of chance and the consequences his experiments with the painting material produce.
“…I would prefer to see things as a game. That is to say, to put the pieces on the table and try to combine them, to manipulate them or permute them in order to find new set-ups. Or, rather than a game, I could speak of it as a strategy… in a word, all this connects with this aspect, that is to say, how to be on the right slope, how to stay with the nature of things when working on them, not against them, but, on the contrary, accompanying them. In principle, I can say that if I am making paintings, then I have to get as close as I can to what the materials and their uses suggest to me. And try to say what they allow me to do. I let things happen or I try to stick as closely as I can to what… I don’t know. I buy a brush 40 cm wide; what can I do with this 40 cm brush? Where will this 40 cm brush lead me, and what will it allow me to do, to express about it and about me, about our encounter?”
Irmeline Lebeer, Interview with Bernard Frize, in: Bernard Frize, aplat, exhibition catalog Musée d'art moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris 2003.