Bernard Frize

Paris France 1949, lives and works in Paris and Berlin

Bernard Frize is an artist who makes his knowledge of materials and techniques the main issue of an exploration into the origins of paintings. His techniques change constantly. With these he makes use of special implements, such as the wide brush, the traînard (a very thin brush used by meticulous painters for the most detailed work) and the roller, with which one can imitate decorative wallpaper patterns. Frize also adds substances to the paint; some of these prevent the colors from mixing, for instance, or make the paint layer homogenous and smooth. Sometimes he simply allows gravity to do the work: here he applies a thick layer of paint to the canvas, hangs it with the surface facing the floor and then waits until the dripping mass of paint forms tiny stalactites – the painting paints itself.

Frize’s experiments have resulted in an oeuvre that consists of highly varied series. There is no distinct stylistic coherence, nor is there a recognizable structure. The avoidance of the personal brushstroke stems from the wish to allow the painting to speak for itself as much as possible. In that sense Frize aspires to a pure type of painting, one which is free of subjective elements. His work bears some likeness, in this respect, to that of the American Robert Ryman, who once defined his manner of painting as ‘to paint the paint’. But whereas Ryman primarily makes use of neutral white, Frize employs the entire color spectrum; both impose restrictions upon themselves, but one opts for a subdued and the other for an exuberant palette.