A BETTER WORLD press release by Enrico Gomez
New York based contemporary artist Deborah Freedman offers works from her newest series A Better World, which foreground the tumultuous drama and abstract order ever-present within the confines of our natural surround. These oil on canvas paintings are recognizable as segments of larger, sweeping landscapes and triumphant vistas. A sea-green mass swells and falls here, a foamy spray of paint crashes and cuts along the picture edge there, or an enigmatic lagoon shimmers quietly below the horizon. These images are taken from direct observation of the Catskill Mountain Range that rings the artist’s upstate New York home and studio. There is reconciliation here between the often disparate influences of planning and chance. In formal resolutions produced along painterly lines, the works within A Better World evince “the environment” as both subject and context, both the figure and its frame.
Straddling the line between the strategies of representation and abstraction, the works of Deborah Freedman are compelling examples of each. Compositional tension and formal arrangements of shape and color give these works a considered balance, a sense of agreement amongst the variable visual components that is unusual in its completeness. These paintings, as exercises in material and decision, are whole unto themselves with ocular results that are impactful and evocative. The lingering emotional resonance of these works adheres closely to many of the artist’s long-held concerns, which include human intervention and disturbance within the eco-sphere, environmental shifts within the larger planetary system, the ability of the landscape to hold aspects of our collective psyche and the theory of dependent origination between all species of flora and fauna, to name only a few.
Shares Freedman on her new works, “The series A Better World began in response to tragic episodes of gun violence in California and the horrific terrorist episode in Marseilles in July 2016. My impulse was to create images of the world as it could be – optimistic, serene, harmonious, and hopeful. This was painting as protest. Painting as wish fulfillment. Painting as persistence. As the series unfolded the work evolved from a utopian “better” to images of harmony that is difficult to maintain - as if everything we know is slipping away. A year into the series my husband suddenly passed away, adding to my sense of uncertainty. He would want me to continue the task of describing both yearning and chaos.”
While the subject matter of landscape has been a vehicle of expression for artists intermittently throughout the ages, Deborah Freedman brings a unique blend of formal acuity and deftness of arbitration to the creation of these works. Writes Stewart Waltzer of Artnet about the paintings of Deborah Freedman: “If you or I look at a landscape there are the colors and the contours of the land; there is the endless depth of the sky and its reflection on the land before us. We are looking, but you cannot see what you cannot see. Imagine how much harder is it for an artist to organize a landscape, using its color, its shapes, its clarity, its evocative power, i.e. the loneliness of an empty lake or a shore pounded in surf, to transcend the plain topography and make it something that moves us without any apparent reason each time we look at this painting. And it has no verbal correlation. We are captured; it is a feeling without a context. That really is the essence of art. It is valuable without being “precious”; its value is synonymous with its accomplishment. Here, we have someone who has worked long and deeply in the field and whose accomplishment is evident in the pleasure it brings us.”