Perrotin Seoul is happy to present a solo show of Bernard Frize, who returns to Korea with an exhibition of recent works.
Artist or Art like Penelope: on Bernard Frize's recent works
A remarkable work of art attracts a wide range of viewers and simultaneously triggers a profound and sincere rationale and interpretation of the work. In one respect, a painting of a high standard with a wide-ranging visual effect instantly and instinctively draws many viewers, regardless of their aesthetic taste or artistic view. However, on the other hand, those charismatic works provide a private yet open arena that allows viewers to explore intellectually. This is made possible because such works not only possess visual attractiveness but hold the power that invokes self-introspection. And these are also the reasons that we aim for an amalgamation of art and humanities and actively pursue their interaction.
Recent works of Bernard Frize continue to be mature and masterly; steadily maintaining the visual aesthetic that the artist has developed in his oeuvre over the years. The surfaces of these rectangular canvases have formal composition that appear more complete than in any previous works. Ripe colors, deep hues, delicate movement of the brush that crisscross in vertical and horizontal parallels, strict yet rhythmical painterly touch, and the interaction of these elements at play reveals an extraordinary surface as if it creates a perfect mini universe. We can experience a similar aesthetic in Frize's works completed in 2016 of the Feux et Lacs series. As suggested by the title, the series is based on the adaptation of the northern lights which are iridescent colors and hues permeated by darkness. Here, the waterfall and oceans form the compositional elements; verticals are symbolized by waterfalls and horizontals are reminiscent of the sea. Yet, the recent works amplify their formative characteristics as described earlier in this text and therefore they stimulate the viewer's emotions and are even more open to intellectual rationale. Knowing that the most technically perfect mechanical devices are also the most natural and human-friendly, Frize's paintings also reach out to the viewer in a rich and supple reverberation and stimulate the viewer metaphysically while he maintains a mechanical method of creation which controls the artist's subjectivity.
Moreover, his works offer a fresh analysis of the significance of Greek mythology from a humanities standpoint. In association with the recent paintings of Frize in which verticals and horizontals cross each other in a grid, one ancient Greek myth most rhetorically and aptly comes to mind.That is the story of Penelope which appears in Homer's epic, Odyssey.Though there is no need to repeat the myth well known to all, let us briefly recall: the protagonist, beautiful wife of Odysseus who pretends to weave a shroud only to undo a part of the shroud every night as a trick to delay her marriage to potential suitors in order to keep her identity and remain faithful to Odysseus, is ultimately honored for her fidelity. This myth of Penelope's weaving with warp and thread, vertically and horizontally on a loom connects beautifully with Frize's paintings.Going beyond a physical similarity, interpretation of the two from a humanities standpoint further enhances their symbolic meaning.Countless repetition of Penelope's weaving and Frize's working process of layering paint on canvas is not economically fruitful nor satisfactory for a goal-driven outcome. Conversely, the artist's actions are identified as a kind of idle inoperative creation that preserves his essence that is most pure and distinctly his. Frize, as a creator of these works, does not campaign himself as the work's owner, subject or narcissist in the creative process. Instead, he keeps his stance as an invisible performer of the aesthetic. He works tirelessly as an intermediary so that humanly beautiful and natural artistic qualities can be shared far and wide.Through his recent works, Bernard Frize fully captures us in a state of ecstasy, and for the reasons stated above, his works have the power to lead us to sincere insight and liberating rationale.
Dr. Sumi Kang, July 2017
Dr. Sumi Kang is an art historian and art critic. She is a professor of Western Art Theory at Dongduk Women's University and the author of Ticklish Subject - Korean Contemporary Art Since 2000, The Art of Criticism, and Aisthesis: Thinking with Walter Benjamin's Aesthetics.
Press release courtesy Perrotin.