Born in 1954 in Saint-Mandé (FR)
Lives and works between Paris (FR) and Berlin (DE)
Represented by the gallery Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris (FR)
“My paintings are images”, maintains Bernard Frize, an assertion that may surprise at first sight especially as his works, including some surviving vestiges of depiction, do not seem to reflect anything. Large format works displaying multicolour grids (N, 2005), networks (282-6, 1996) and interlaced designs (Excelsior) where no colour ever prevails over the others, Bernard Frize’s paintings intrigue the viewer with the processes from which they result. The stretched and superimposed materials (oil, lacquer, acrylic, resin…) are arranged on the canvas according to the sometimes extreme constraints that the artist sets himself: “never pick up the brush from its stand”, “never go over the same place twice”, “never exercise regret”, right up to the paroxysmal “paint eyes shut only guided by the voice of an assistant” are just some of them. The compositions, created in accordance with the principle of the series, are then organized on the basis of an initial diagram, on an additional constraint (for instance, the depiction of the possible moves of the knight on a chess board), without however completely abandoning the notion of allowing chance to intervene. By putting painting to the test of the arbitrary, Frize questions the distancing of the artist vis-à-vis his work; hostile to the romantic idea of the “demiurge artist”, Frize does indeed stand back from the fruit of his work. A conceptual painter, an admirer of Barnett Newman and John Baldessari, Bernard Frize develops a work that contradicts the very notion of style, changing tack from representation to abstraction, from the motif to all-over, from monochrome to rainbow. Not content with desecrating the work, Frize also de-personalizes the process of creation by sometimes calling upon assistants in order to make paintings using several hands. At the end of the day, although his works are effectively “images” undeniably calling upon a certain technical virtuosity and not lacking in a decorative dimension, they are, above all, the “images” of the pictorial reality, of the painting itself.
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