form, color, illumination - Suzan Frecon painting
Mysterious shapes of color
The American artist Suzan Frecon (*1941) has dedicated herself to the endeavor of painting over the past four decades. She feels that the ultimate achievement of her paintings would be the experience that they could cause to the viewer. The exhibition has been installed together with the artist and is a collaboration with the Menil Collection in Houston. After having been represented in group exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts Bern in 1990 and 1994, Suzan Frecon's painterly œuvre of the last ten years is currently shown in a concentrated overview.
Each painting of Suzan Frecon is both rational and inituitive. The
compositions of the oil paintings are generated by precise visual
measurements and proportions. Watercolors are part of the larger unity
of her painting. They use the same ingredients of color, form, material,
etc., but are generated more by the irregular proportions and ground
material of the handmade papers.
Painting as a «high form of knowledge»
Though non-referential, Frecon's works are not the results of a process of abstraction: Colour is usually the starting point or catalyst. The orchestration of all the other elements constituting the painting, evolves to the ultimate goal, the experience of the viewer. Hence, Frecon considers painting, or art, when successful, to posses an elusive, far reaching knowledge, that is actually «beyond the reach of the viewer». She feels that is precisely the quality that makes it «art». Crucial for the compositions are the asymmetrical tensions and balances, which seem to set in motion the different planes, the background and foreground, the various elements, colors and forms. The modulating of the pigment and the choice of support further enhance this dynamic. Fine linen panels and handmade rag papers from India are surfaces which possess particular capabilities of holding the strokes of paint. Therefore, the surfaces at times seem delicate or gleaming, reflecting or absorbing, always interacting differently to the lighting conditions. Light is extremely important for the painting.
Abstract forms full of associations
Although Frecon's paintings never refer to the immediate reality, her paintings trigger manifold associations. One is for instance reminded of the prehistoric wall paintings in the caves at Lascaux by her earth reds, while the tones of blue and gold seem to be a thread to the Pre-Renaissance. The titles also reflect this ambivalence of non-referentiality and richness of associations «just beyond one's reach». The combinations of words in titles such as «purple forbidden enclosure» are as abstract as the painting itself but as a title it lends another dimension to the work. Without suggesting a concrete interpretation, the title adds to the elusive appeal of the colors and forms.
Insight into Frecon's painterly Œuvre
The current presentation has been accomplished together with the artist and is a co-production of the Museum of Fine Arts Bern and the Menil Collection in Houston. Josef Helfenstein, since 2003 director of the Menil Collection and until 2000 vice director of the Museum of Fine Arts Bern, had already included works on paper by Frecon in group exhibitions in 1990 and 1994 in Bern. The present exhibition provides an insight into Frecons painterly œuvre of the last ten years.