Artist Suzan Frecon will be in conversation with artists and Rail contributors, Joan Waltemath and Louis Block. We’ll conclude with a poetry reading from Pansy Maurer-Alvarez.
Suzan Frecon is known for abstract oil paintings and works on paper that—as she describes her lifelong practice—“speak for themselves.” Made over long stretches of time, her work embodies the durational activity of painting itself and invites the viewer’s sustained attention: these, she says, “are not pictures that you look at. They are paintings that you experience.“1 In Frecon’s paintings, composition serves as a foundational structure, holding color, material, and light. Her compositions are characterized by asymmetrically balanced forms in precise spatial and proportional relationships.
The artist mixes pigments and oils to differing effects, and her almost tactile use of color and contrasting matte and shiny surfaces heightens the visual experience of her work. Colors and surfaces vary in terms of density and reflectivity, and areas in the compositions frequently shift between dark and light. Figure can become ground and ground can become figure, or as the artist prefers to define it, full and empty space.
Frecon was born in 1941 in Mexico, Pennsylvania. Following a degree in fine arts from Pennsylvania State University in 1963, she spent three years at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and studied paintings in museums throughout Europe.
Joan Waltemath grew up on the Great Plains and now lives and works in New York City. Drawing has long been at the root of her artistic practice, serving as a way of thinking though visual material in preparation for painting. At the same time Waltemath challenges her drawings to be autonomous works, which are made using diverse wet and dry materials. Her abstract paintings focus on constructing spatial voids using harmonic progressions and non-traditional, reflective pigments in oil; their scale and dimensions address the body. New sewn canvas works explore the poetics of contingency.
Shown in New York, Chicago, Portland, Baltimore, London, Basel and Cologne, her work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Art, the Hammer Museum and the Harvard University Art Museum, among others. She has written extensively on art and served as editor-at-large of the Brooklyn Rail since 2001. She taught at the IS Chanin School of Architecture of the Cooper Union from 1997 to 2010 and Princeton University often between 2000-9. She is currently the Director of MICA’s LeRoy E. Hoffberger School of Painting.
The Rail has a tradition of ending our conversations with a poem, and we’re fortunate to have Pansy Maurer-Alvarez reading.