We are delighted to present “Turn the Pieces into a Place,” the fifth solo exhibition by Bernard Frize in our gallery. We are primarily featuring new works created in 2015, exemplifying the latest and surprising developments in Frize’s studio of processual painting.
In one of these series of works, black fills the upper part of the picture, with vertical streaks of color below. These were created using several brushes simultaneously and appear as if they are pouring out of the black. In another series of paintings, Frize laid the canvas flat and let several colors blend into each other to create color streaks and a delicate marble look, like an oil film on water.
When asked what he enjoys most about painting, Bernard Frize once said, “If I succeed in inventing a small mechanism, an engine that runs by itself. One that no longer needs me.” Frize’s conceptual painting, which has also been described as “peinture automatique,” is based on conditions that initiate processes that make the production of painting visible on a canvas. He likes to work in series, often several at once, in order to test and explore the possible outcomes of his decisions. The possible variations are multifaceted, their effect sensuous and impressive, the use of color seductive.
Bernard Frize occupies a unique position in the discourse of abstract painting, due to the austerity of his artistic ideas paired with a simultaneous freedom of implementation. He loves paradoxes in painting. “In order for chance to work, you have to create conditions that make chance possible, one of which is having a lot of time. It is a rather complex thing to arrange situations in which you do nothing and things happen by themselves.”
Color is another paradox, for it does “not particularly interest” him, despite its being a vital raw material for his work. By using color in a nonhierarchical, experimental, or technical-mechanical manner, Frize highlights painting as a handicraft, while also discounting the idea of artistic creation. Frize lends his works a certain dynamic through the investigation of painting’s contradictions. He mixes synthetic resin with fluid acrylic paint to avoid all traces of personal touch and the emotional effect of brushstrokes. The resulting picture planes, alluring and hermetic at the same time, have become a trademark of his painting style.
Bernard Frize was awarded the Käthe Kollwitz Prize in 2015 by the Berlin Akademie der Künste. The jury members Ayşe Erkmen, Mona Hatoum, and Karin Sander wrote in their statement, “He strives with the utmost sophistication toward the advancement of contemporary painterly abstraction and the development of a topology of painterly gestures and structures.” Our exhibition “Turn the Pieces into a Place” features part of the original prizewinner’s exhibition.