Austin Arts Center Gallery
by Jude Schwendenwien
Nancy Friese: Vistas
The history of landscape in art finds its most jubilant revision in the work of Nancy Friese. Her sensitive touch transforms these expansive natural scenes into optically lush, visually arresting images. This show is full of many works in a variety of media, from brooding monoprints to explosive, Fauvist paintings. Although each work maintains a unique emotional resonance, the artist's clarity of vision is evident in all her pieces.
Friese's most apparent attribute is her fluid execution of line, which finds its most dynamic realizations in her emotional strokes of paint. This sensibility applies on a more subdued level to her delicate etched marks. From the oppressive somberness of a storm in her monotype titled Arbor, to the frenetic anxiety of the painting Brilliant Night, Friese's forms evolve from layers of brilliant color. She often extends the allure of these colors with exclamatory, scraped gestural lines in the prints. Friese's compositions are also unique due to an acute compression of energies and marks, so that each piece smoulders with a burgeoning sense of elation. The intensity of this work is rarely seen in the landscape genre, especially when the energy contained in the art yearns to break out of the literal framed boundaries.
Friese's prints are as personal as her paintings but in a more rarefied way. Although her source is nature, she interprets realism through a lucid imagination. This is evident in the exclusion of any standardized formulas for landscape pictures. In some of the intimate chine colle etchings, the flurry of interlocking lines and evocative tones invests the encapsulated scenes with a formidable quality. Friese's versatility allows her to go from such an internalized fragmentation of a natural scene to explore the full-blown grandeur of large canvases such as Buxton, in which a large tree emerges from a layering of brilliant, associative colors. This tree is surrounded by the corporeal presence of multicolored clouds that match the landscape in sheer vivacity. Friese stands out as an inventive practitioner of a typically academic genre of art.