The solo exhibition NEW WAVE by Icelandic painter Katrin Fridriks reveals a complex vocabulary of forms and technical experiments, rooted within physical reality with a special focus on the law of gravity. For her new body of work, Fridriks shot the paint on the canvas at a certain speed and frequency. The process which forms compositions can be compared to the sensitivity curve of a gravitational wave. The works of the exhibition represent a unique distillation of research on the relations between mass, speed and the distribution of energy. They aspire to guide the viewer’s imagination to an otherworldly experience, beyond the gravity laws.
By transferring the movement and speed of her gestures into the paint, Fridriks achieves to capture the very act of painting, and thereby turns the picture itself into an event. This sensation of witnessing the painting as happening before one’s eyes, rather than viewing a conventional self-contained image, is essential for the engaging experiences that the artist provides the beholder with. Before consciously contemplating the artwork, the viewer is already involved sensuously.
For more than a decade, Fridriks has been experimenting with the constitutive elements of painting. Although the artist is best known for large-scale canvases, her truly contemporary artistic practice originates in an early engagement with Performance Art and Land Art, but also her studies of Japanese calligraphy, which were the starting point for her long-term research of the medium painting. Learning the technique of executing a letter in one brush stroke only – as opposed to built-up lettering in Latin script – but most notably her experience of working in real space and time, all influenced what today has become a choreographical painting process. The most prominent predecessor of working on a canvas placed directly on the floor to apply paint by physically moving around it, is the American abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock. Ensuing from this seminal practice, Fridriks has developed her genuinely own technique.
Her paintings are thus best described as an occurrence, rather than a static image: The moment of eruption, liquid matter gushing from deep inside, small particles hurtling through the air, dripping all over the silvery and black surfaces, all solid is liquefied and each layer set in motion. This depiction of her abstract paintings furthermore alludes to natural occurrences, such as the scene of the outburst of a geyser in her home country, Iceland. The unique and pristine landscape of the geologically active island has been an enormous influence on her work and life. By means of her distinct painting technique, Fridriks captures the force and the sublime of its nature, without depicting an event or the scenery, as such. Although applied on a canvas, the paint only seems to have come to a temporary halt, before continuing to swirl and splash over the edges of the canvas – and into the space of the beholder. Rather than capturing a moment in time, her technique evokes a feeling of movement and energy that, on an abstract level, directly relates to the origin of the evolution of the universe.
Katrin Fridriks (*1974 in Reykjavik) lives and works in Luxembourg. Internationally exhibited, she has received high-profile grants from the Ministry of Culture, Higher Education & Research in Luxembourg in 2009, the French government for the Olympic Stadium of Nîmes in 2007, and among others the Goss-Michael Foundation for the MTV Re-define project in 2011 and 2014, Ralph Lauren Foundation in 2010, the Biennial of Liverpool and the Icelandic Art Center in 2008. Fridriks was last exhibited at the Global Art Affairs Foundation at Palazzo Bembo in the context of the Biennale di Venezia 2015.