Group Shows

What’s so strange at Fredericks & Freiser’s “Strange Abstraction”?

At this stage, abstraction is no longer considered confusing or iconoclastic. So what kind of abstract work might earn the title “strange?” Fredericks & Freiser’s buoyant group show “Strange Abstraction” provides a sharp answer. Each of the artists employs his or her materials in an uncompromisingly idiosyncratic way. Like many of the outsider artists whose work is on display at the Outsider Art Fair this weekend, those in this exhibition have developed vocabularies that, although rooted in Modernist abstraction, are deeply personal and visually unique.

[Image at top:  Joanne Greenbaum, Untitled, 2013, oil, acrylic, and ink on canvas, 90 x 70 inches.]

Chris Martin, Untitled, 2009-15, mixed media on canvas, 46 x 38 inches.

In the press materials for a panel discussion at the Outsider Art Fair, an organizer argues that we “often expect mainstream artists we respect to evolve and progress over time. In the outsider art realm, however, many artists expand upon a single vision obsessively for an entire lifetime.” “Strange Abstraction” makes the case that this intensity of vision is found not only in the work of self-taught artists, but also in that of many who would be considered mainstream. The work in this show is marked by a complex blend of the visceral and the cerebral, the abstract and the real. Most important, however, these artists are non-strategic: they rely primarily on intuition rather than research or theory to move the work forward.

Cary Smith, Pointed Splat #6 (yellow-pink with colorblock), 2013, oil on linen, 50 x 50 inches.

Nancy Shaver, Material Excess, 1994-2004, wooden blocks, silk, plaster, paper ink, 12 x 11 x 6.5 inches
Micheal Berryhill, Beachcomber, 2016, oil on linen, 18 x 14 inches
Steve DiBenedetto, Haggler, 2015, oil on linen, 20 x 16 inches
Dan Walsh, Blink, 2013, acrylic on canvas, 40 x 40 inches
B. Wurtz, Untitled, 2012, wood, wire plastic netbags, thread, 29 x 14 x 5.25 inches
 Jonathan Lasker, A Second Partial History, 2008, oil on canvas board, 12 x 16 inches
Arlene Shechet, The Possibility of Ghosts, 2013, glazed ceramic, steel, 47 1/4 x 23 x 16 1/4 inches
Lisa Beck, Pier II, 2015, oil and enamel paint on mylar, 72 x 36 inches
Xylor Jane, Dying Everyday 1963 – 2044, 2006, oil on panel, 43 x 43 inches

Strange Abstraction,” featuring Lisa Beck, Michael Berryhill, Steve DiBenedetto, Michelle Grabner, Joanne Greenbaum, Xylor Jane, Jonathan Lasker, Chris Martin, Nancy Shaver, Arlene Shechet, Cary Smith, Dan Walsh, B. Wurtz; Fredericks & Freiser, Chelsea, New York, NY. Through February 20, 2016.

Related posts:
Dan Walsh: “I have a major commitment to my brushes”

Lisa Beck: A Set of Glances, of Extended Duration, Perpetually
Part II: Some artist suggestions for Paul Kasmin’s Process/Abstraction


Two Coats of Paint is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution – Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. To use content beyond the scope of this license, permission is required.

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