Perrotin Hong Kong is pleased to present The World Is Wonderful, an exhibition of the latest series of paintings by French artist Bernard Frize, marking his second solo exhibition at Perrotin’s Hong Kong space.
There is a vast art-historical gulf between painting of destruction and destruction of painting. On one side we can count such harrowing representational works as Théodore Géricault’s Raft of the Medusa (1819); on the other, physically distressed canvases like Lucio Fontana’s “cuts” (1958–68). Offering an unexpected bridge between these two metaphorical shores, Bernard Frize’s latest paintings are mesmerizing evocations—both pictorially and physically speaking—of destruction.
The paintings presented in The World Is Wonderful are neither narrative nor mutilated, but they owe their creation, in large part, to a kind of sanctioned degeneration. Unruly paint has been allowed to bleed over the artist’s own brushwork, complicating systematic strokes with smudges, swathes and stains whose amorphous hazy forms that suggest various celestial bodies.
Managing to appear simultaneously vibrant and on the brink of ruin, the series of new paintings presented at Perrotin’s Hong Kong gallery reflect Frize’s complex and ever-evolving relationship to paint, the act of painting and what it means to be a painter.
For more than forty years, Frize has worked in series, producing suites of large, colorful canvases under strict predetermined conditions designed to exclude self-expression from his painting practice. The specific nature of Frize’s protocols change from one series to the next, but the underlying concept is always the same.
Each series represents a new attempt by Frize to undermine the artist’s traditional role as a decision-maker (to this end, even the titles of his works are automatically generated and assigned) and a virtuoso.
In Frize’s previous works, scenarios wherein paint acts (or reacts) on its own terms have yielded relatively subtle results: an errant dark streak made by two overlapping colors, a few drips left behind by a watery stroke, or some added texture on the surface caused by a slightly over-loaded brush, for example.
As with the previous series, the artist began his latest paintings with a thick brush dipped into his signature blend of acrylic paint and resin.
In each final painting, this standard backdrop is interrupted—in many cases effectively erased—by forms that are not “painted” per se, but, rather, borne from meandrous pools, drips, seepages and absorptions of paint.
Like an automated self-referential version of Robert Rauschenberg’s Erased de Kooning Drawing (1953), the works in The World Is Wonderful invoke destruction as a key creative gesture. But whereas Rauschenberg did the erasing of de Kooning’s work himself, Frize lets paint wipe away his own strokes.
Born in 1949 in Saint-Mandé, France
Lives and works in Berlin, Germany
Born in 1949 in Saint-Mandé, France, Bernard Frize lives and works between Paris, France and Berlin, Germany. Painting with repetitive, accessible gestures, Frize conceives precise protocols beforehand and welcomes contingency during the process. The results, diverse in form and colour, are sequences of abstract compositions endlessly redefined yet unwavering in intellectual integrity.
In 2015, Frize was awarded the Käthe Kollwitz Prize by the Berlin Akademie der Künste. He was also awarded the Fred Thieler Prize for Painting, Berlinische Galerie, Berlin, 2011. The artist has been the subject of solo exhibitions in worldwide institutions, including the Musée National d'Art Moderne Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian, Lisboa, Portugal; Berlinische Galerie, Berlin, Germany; Museum Morsbroich, Leverkusen, Germany; Kunsthallen Brandts Klædefabrik, Odense, Denmark; Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France; S.M.A.K., Ghent, Belgium; Gemeentemuseum, the Hague, the Netherlands; Kunstmuseum Basel & Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Switz erland; Westfälisches Landesmuseum für Kunst und Kulturgeschichte, Münster, Germany; Kunstmuseum St. Gallen, Switzerland; Museum Moderner Kunst, Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna, Austria; De Pont Museum of Contemporary Art, Tilburg, The Netherlands; Ivan Dougherty Gallery, Sydney, Australia; Kunsthalle, Zürich, Switzerland; Villa Medici, Rome, Italy. He has also been featured in important group exhibitions, including the Sao Paolo Biennial, Venice Biennale, and Sydney Biennial, amongst others.
His work is represented in more than 45 public collections around the world, including the Tate Gallery, London; MNAM/ Centre Pompidou, Paris; MUMOK, Vienna; NMAO the National Museum of Art, Osaka; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt; the Kunstmuseum, Basel and the Kunsthalle, Zurich.