Abbotsford artist Christopher Friesen views the world through the lens of technology as he alternates between a traditional and contemporary focus in his work.
Duplicity, an exhibition of his work which opens at the Maple Ridge Art Gallery next week, refers to the ways that representative art reveals, conceals and contradicts meaning at multiple levels.
“I have to believe that duplicity is at the heart of every artist’s practice where their intentions around their work are not fully disclosed; where the viewer does the work and sees the possibility of more meaning without it being spelled out by the artist,” explains Friesen.
Friesen, a faculty member at the University of the Fraser Valley, will showcase three different aspects of his studio practice through three distinct bodies of work: In Media Res, Pulse and Soft Topographies.
The body of work titled In Media Res, originally shown at the Elissa Cristal Gallery (2010) and recently at Toronto International Art Fair (2011), brings together the techniques of classical portraiture and pointillism.
Using a minimalist grid, a pixel-like square of colour, Friesen manipulates a familiar technological structure and optical images. His subjects explore images from both current social media and classical antiquities. These move in and out of focus depending on the viewer’s distance from the painting.
With the Pulse series, Friesen pushes the abstraction of the square even further. The artist uses the nine-square grid of the familiar Sudoku as his focus, working with colour rather than numbers. Removing the image from the context of pixel technology, Friesen places it within painterly techniques permitting a fresh experience of the commonplace.
The final group of work, called Soft Topographies, shows Friesen betraying different aspects of his heritage. In this series, he works in a free, gestural mode applying paint with a drywall trowel, thus drawing on memories his father’s trade within the building industry. Additionally, Friesen, who is of Dutch ancestry, imbues this body of work with classical Dutch glazing techniques, at times adding an element of whimsy by applying a combination of red and green glazes. A low-tech three-dimensional component is added when viewed with glasses.
Duplicity, paintings by Christopher Friesen, opens with a public reception on Saturday, Jan. 14 from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The exhibition is at the gallery in the ACT, 11944 Haney Place, until March 17.