Pia Fries: Loschaug
On View February 02, 2007 - March 03, 2007
CRG will open its new space with a multi-part work by Pia Fries titled Loschaug; a single work comprised of twelve panels. This work was shown in its first embodiment as part of Art Unlimited during Art Basel 2005 with Gallerie Nelson, Paris and Mai 36 Galerie, Zurich. Since then Fries has continued to develop the project and it has in its course evolved and grown into something anew. The combined works that form Loschaug span both a range of time and size offering a rare glimpse of Fries’ creative process through a diverse array of technique and variation of subject and form. Central to much of Fries’ recent work and focal to Loschaug is her preoccupation with the artist and naturalist, Maria Sibylla Merian (1647 – 1717) who, atypically of women at the time, set out alone with her teenage daughter on a long voyage from Amsterdam to, then a Dutch colony, Suriname in South America. Her time there resulted in the posthumously published work Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium wherein her detailed watercolors depict her observations of the symbiotic relationship between plants and insects of the South American interior. Such illustrations chronicle the metamorphosic stages of insects from larva to pupa to imago. Fries has taken print reproductions of Merian’s illustrations and collaged them onto the painted surface, particularly in the series of works titled Les Aquarelles de Leningrad and Palimpsest. In these works the printed paper form of the botanical studies are torn apart or fractured revealing a passage between Fries’ notion of reproduction and representation within a confluence of nature represented, in photographic or non-manual terms, and the natural representation and presence of the material that is her paint. The notion of nature as divine creation in its intrinsic perfection of form over time becomes evident not only in the illustrations by Merian, in which she tried empirically to capture, through her observation and recording of the specimen’s detailed complexity, but as Fries’ understanding of how her paint comes to exist on the surface and how it evolves. It is through a rich and ever-expanding vocabulary of extrusions, dollops, and layered bands, constructed entirely of the medium, that Fries finds herself as both the creator and naturalist of forms that require a new nomenclature altogether. The heterogeneous surface is often transformed by its own mass and by gravity’s attempts to pull it apart. The paint that Fries applies to surface is not representing anything from nature, but rather it itself is nature. Not understood as a gesture in the painterly or art-historical tradition, but rather these diversified structures are reacting against each other and the conditions of their environment that might be understood more as a chance meeting of primitive organisms, each vying for survival within the harsh white terrain of the painted support.