The strict may cavil, but not I.
Pre-opening, the staff at the foundation were wondering how people might respond to the unorthodox combination—which I know because I overheard them. One mentioned to me that Nozkowski liked Freilicher’s work.*
Most painters do, but I don’t even even care if he did because the show needs no justification—the pairing is brilliant—it made me laugh at a painting show and that is mad rare these days.
Partly it is a trick; the paintings are hung by the curator Eric Brown (he deserves a mention) in groups of two with a clever eye to corresponding colors and shapes.
Idly, I wonder if Nozkowski might, because of his variety, go well with almost anyone (and if so, bring it on!)
But the combinations bring out similarities that might not have occurred to me otherwise. Nozkowski has strong elements that command the surface of the painting and float in front of a ground that is made to seem more distant when juxtaposed against Freilicher’s work which positions a close-up still life in front of a distant land or cityscape. In turn, Nozkowski pushes us to see Freilicher’s still lives as paint on the surface of the canvas. Thus both painters seem to work on two planes, the near and the far—no middle distance.
Nozkowski’s hard edged floating geometries also reveal how soft-edged Freilicher’s work is. I had never quite seen that everything in her paintings is very slightly out of focus which leads the eye to move in a continuous visual field. This makes Freilicher’s work less realistic and Nozkowski’s moreso—what’s closer is more focused.
Our sense of design is based on nature and it’s especially important to be attuned to that right now—plants for example, and the way they enhue (a word I think I have just made up) their flowers to attract pollinators and position their leaves to provide maximum exposure to the sun. The latter is especially important—if we are trying to position solar panels to track the sun.
Untitled (9-5) if seen alone suggests the sun’s journey across the sky and Study in Blue and Gray a cluster of flowers. Together they reveal deep affinities in the design of the natural world. These two paintings exhibit the most poignant juxtaposition in the show.
The exhibition statement says that this is the first to pair Nozkowski and Freilicher. Well, yeah, and it might be the last to do so too—a good reason to see it now. It is elating.
“A button of color can make the world shake”: Jane Freilicher, 1924-2014