Santa Fe, NM
This story was featured in the September 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art September 2013 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Arriving at the opening reception for Britt Freda’s solo show, held on Friday, September 6, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Giacobbe-Fritz Fine Art in Santa Fe, at first you might think that you’ve walked into some strange conceptual dance performance. The gleaming mixed-media canvases, replete with lush applications of gold leaf, tend to capture viewers’ attention from across the room and draw them slowly, irresistibly nearer to appreciate the artist’s seemingly realistic, nature-inspired subjects. On closer inspection, however, those same images visually break up into multilayered, almost abstract collages that may include scraps of maps, dried seed pods, and even pieces of pencil drawings by the artist’s two grade-school-aged children, along with acrylic paint and the lustrous metallic appliqués. That perception-shifting phenomenon, in turn, often leads those same viewers to pace slowly backward as they allow those diverse elements to coalesce once again into coherent images of owls or bees.
“People definitely move in and out when they’re looking at my work,” says Freda with a satisfied chuckle. “There’s a little bit of a shock element. They expect it to be one thing, and then it becomes something different. I like that slightly disorienting quality. Some of my collectors say that, years after buying a painting, they still see things they hadn’t seen before.”
All of which makes the show’s title, Reveal, particularly apt. The 15 or more works on display continually reward discerning eyes as they disclose ever more layers of meaning. “I want the way I paint to be representative of ancient histories, oral traditions, the natural world, and our human impact on nature,” explains the 40-year-old artist, who lives with her family on Vashon Island in Puget Sound, near Seattle. “That gives the viewer the opportunity to have an intimate connection or dialog with the work.”
Many fans and critics alike have found the sensuous, seductive nature of Freda’s creations reminiscent of the style of Gustav Klimt, the Viennese symbolist who painted such landmark works as THE KISS in the early 20th century. “I’m drawn to his work because he was interested in alluring viewers,” says Freda. “The way you get into a conversation with people is to draw them in through that kind of evocative element.”
Giacobbe-Fritz gallery director Palin Wiltshire expects to draw in many avid collectors of Freda’s works for the two-week-long exhibition, in which the artist’s largest pieces will be selling for up to $10,000. But the show will also include some 12-by-12-inch paintings priced at a very accessible $800, specifically because, says Wiltshire, “there are a lot of people interested in her work who are just starting collecting. When we showed some of her smaller pieces this past December, they all sold on the first day.” So, despite the slow-motion dance they may find going on at the opening, new followers of Britt Freda would be well advised to move quickly. —Norman Kolpas
Featured in the September 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art September 2013 print issue or digital download
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