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 Katrin Fridriks  (1974 - )

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Lived/Active: Iceland/Luxembourg      Known for: abstract figurative painting

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Katrin Fridriks
An example of work by Katrin Fridriks
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

The following information is from Jean-Pierre Jonsson, Art Collector and Designer, who describes the work of Katrin Fridriks, born August 9, 1974 in Reykjavik, Iceland, as "happy art, very big, colorful paintings" that are figurative and abstract.

Jonsson included the following text in a review of Fridrik's work by Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette, an art historian who teaches contemporary art and critical theory in the Art Department of Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California.

This is the future.
Everything else is the past.

Katrin Fridriks is taking painting into the next millennium, breaking away from the old fashioned notion that painting should be a static object, contemplated in the pure white cube and enveloped in silence. The artist from Iceland unfreezes painting, releasing her work into a free-floating, free form, free fall environment where images appear, disappear, reappear in flickering lights, all flashing to the insistent beat of house music. As an international artist who moves across a transcontinental map, Fridriks belongs to the larger and more inclusive world of Image Making, a world that is too fluid and too much in flux to be contained strictly within the "Art World." A Euro-baby who migrated to Paris from Iceland via Germany and has made her way to America for a while, Fridriks consistently shows her work outside the familiar milieus.

For her, art is a vehicle of communication that must be made available to the inside/outside of the gallery system. Taking her impressive university degrees and turning them up a few notches and taking this training to the streets, Fridriks paints not out of the history of art but out of a history-not-yet-written of art from the streets, of underground music, rising up in waves of colors. She has carried this combination of art wisdom and street cool into some of the most prestigious galleries in Europe and now she invades America with an art freed of the what-has-been so that paint can at last move to the tempos of a contemporary beat. She just goes faster.

The time to move ahead the time to get beyond the reach of the dead hand of the past is now.

How should the end of the century speak? What should be the voice of the new millennium? The art of Katrin Fridriks is a progressive excursion evoking the process of making. The whirling, undulating, pulsating rhythms of her surfaces remind the spectator of the arabesques of Jackson Pollock and of the free form eruptions of Fab Five Freddy. While there is a genuine connection with these street-wise iconoclasts, Fridriks pushes their self-conscious machismo aside and confidently presents a new protagonist the face of a woman who presides over a fluctuating landscape that is a postmodern version of horror vaccui. With the straightforward confidence of an artist expects to be heard regardless of gender, she replaces the old fashioned male gaze with that of the woman as the all seeing eyesthe one who looks back, the one who establishes a new equality between art work and art spectator. She is the eye in the sky, she is the face in the crowd.

She is Baudelaire's flâneur, strolling about the boulevards of London, Paris, Berlin, New York, and Los Angeles, moving with the crowd, part of the masses. In this neo-modern life, the worlds Fridriks creates are not complete worlds but image/scapes formed out of fragmented impressions, shards and shapes of colors that may or may not be applied to a conventional canvas. But she is the flâneur updated and transformed into female. The detached male wandering aloof from the crowd, observing people from a cool and superior distance is replaced by Fridriks who is wholly woman--part of the group, attached to people, making connections. Her art denies the alienation of modernité and refuses the irony of Postmodernism. It is time to heal the wounds of alienation with art that dances with joy.

This new writing in colors in signs what does it mean?

The painting of Fridriks looks like Neo-Pop but its not. Looks are deceiving. Pop art was derived from static pictures and logos that always referred ironically to the venerable tradition of painting. A more appropriate comparison would be to Nam June Paik, the first video artist, particularly his prophetic 1974 visionary video Global Groove with its dance rhythms and its calligraphic colors and graphic designs interwoven with real images. MTV learned how to make music videos from the Korean artist, creating a music based visual language that became international and was inherited by the next generation of art makers. As a visual artist, Katrin Fridriks comes from this tradition of MTV, of video art, of fast cutting, quick cropping, hip hopping around a story board chopped up with jump cuts. The viewer is pulled from point to point, cinematically switched from low to high, panned from time to space.

The images used by Katrin Fridriks are familiar and strange at the same time, never at rest and never resolved, never contained and never restrained. They cannot be bound or framed but flow like colored music, creating a total environment that envelops the viewer. Fridriks's art proposes that the world can be united through joy and asserts the right to exalt happiness over pain. This award-winning wunderkind rocks and flows with the music to which she paints and to the sounds that play in her mind. Her art comes from the underworld of club music and the overworld of video culture. Only in the background is such visual experimentation possible, and it is no accident that Fridriks augmented her exhibition record in well-known galleries by also taking her work to the clubs where the music scene was constantly reinventing itself.

Rather than creating a style in the traditional sense, Fridriks has created a language that explores, expands and encompasses any object that happens to be within touching, seeing or hearing distance. Her paintings suggest an urban hedonism that is another Arcadia derived from a collision between the unprecedented media culture and the felt need to express this simulated Garden of Eden where we are all tempted all the time, led by language. Her art is new because it uses the syntax of a video technology that has never existed before and house music--languages that have never been heard before. New video-based linguistics are as far away from conventional film as Cubism was from Renaissance painting. Cubist painting insisted on the truth of a lived reality that is constantly in motion. Picasso and Braque compressed and combined time, space and movement onto a tightly packed picture plane.

Katrin Fridriks takes over the cadences of Cubism and speeds them up to millennium amps. Video language, like Cubism before it, exploits the possibilities of the literal reality of film-making itself by superimposing image upon image, by chopping and cutting, by combining and recombining, by freezing and flowing pictures into fast falling shards. Focusing on process, concentrating on making, the flashing avalanche of sights of the neo-world in which we all wander this painter has translated experiences into hyper-painting.

Fridriks understands that painting can no longer go backwards and must push forward using whatever tools are available. While conventional Postmodern has frozen itself into a position, permanently nostalgic, towards the past, Fridriks cuts through the ice of hesitation and employs modes of expression that come from non-elitist underground cultures, ways of making art that have been scorned by the established institutions. The result is sheer sensation that is everywhere all the time and is there for the taking by anyone who is attuned to whats next.

Art is experience.
The viewer is a participator rather than an observer.
Art is activated.
The viewer is active.

It is, after all, art.

Her art comes from here not therefrom a kaleidoscopic realm where fashion mixes with art and art mixes with music and music mixes with itself. It is here, in this terrain, where the demands of Postmodernism give life to artistic hybridity, that the painting of Fridriks can be found. Like many Postmodern artists, she uses paint, not as an end in itself, but as a means to express a newly multivalent culture. Rather than being a painter in the traditional sense, Fridriks responds to the fast paced excitement of an international urban scene with painted motifs thrown into a stream of consciousness. The calligraphic style flipped and whipped with a palette knife is both the personal handwriting of Fridriks and the universal language that circulates within the village culture of urban neighborhoods.

Postmodernism accepts neither straight lines nor origins, but, if the art of Fridriks is ultimately without source, it can be understood by way of its traces. She reconnects art and music, two forms forcibly separated by the artificial boundaries of Modernist theology. She also reconnects the beginning of the century with the end of the century, recalling the collaborations between Toulouse-Lautrec and his posters for certain louche cafés and Pablo Picasso with certain sur-real ballets and the San Francisco poster artists of the Sixties with the Fillmore.

Postmodernism promises to eliminate hierarchies and polarities between high art and low art, between East and West, male and female. This promise not only suggests but demands an international art that defines transcendence, not in spiritual terms, but in the material terms of a universal language. In todays media world, transcendent language must be visual, must be looked at, must be read, transcending cultures and ethnicities and escaping the power sources. Fridriks's art is part of this Postmodern lingua franca scooped up by the nouveau youth culture from the street where new art forms are generated.

Katrin Fridriks has inherited, indeed, incubated, the expansive and explosive creative impulses of a trio of street children, the late Keith Haring, the self-destructive Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Kenny Scharf, the only survivor. These outlaws had their own master, another outsider artist living beyond the bounds of polite society Andy Warhol. Isolated in his queerness, alienated in his unsightliness, this man-child dreamed. Filtering his yearnings through mass media, Warhol understood before his time the mindscape inherited by our own fin-de-siècle. He sensed that simulacra had overtaken the Real and that this Postmodern eclipse of reality had occurred simply because of the saturation of the culture with prefabricated visual motifs. Mass fantasies had come to be a profoundly satisfying shared experience, more real and more important than any lived experience. Warhol turned away from the horrors of the Cold War and recorded the delights the newly synthetic environment.

The new symbology of the millennium collective un/conscious is based upon pleasure and is collected by Katrin Fridriks. The Old World considered pleasure to be frivolous, un-serious, trivial, compared to the significance of suffering. The New World was never so masochistic and transformed Simulations into a neo/reality that is based upon the promises of Desire. Stripped of its theoretical justifications, Millennium art arises out of human needs and cravings. The engine that powers this new modernism is the larger World of Images. While it is hardly unusual for art to arise from the localafter all Chaucer and Dante created out of the vernacularthe current climate is unique in that new technology allows a specific artistic phenomenon to become global. Society has come to be defined by its own spectacle and it is this world of the spectacular, based upon a purely optical experience, that is revved up and served up by Katrin Fridriks in her paintings.

The spectacle captured by this artist is a place of pleasure and joy, a place where emotional connections can be made. The worlds created by Fridriks are womanly worlds conceived of by the female of the species that is strong and powerful. A vital part of her paintings is the feminine gentling of a world gone far too hard by the musicality of handwritten art. The viewer surfs through the painted worlds she creates, going over and under, through and on top of environments that surround and envelop like house music. The persona of this art is sleek and defiantly and deliberately commercial, announcing to all those who have chosen not to notice that the most progressive and contemporary art forms are happening where they always have--where the people are. The kitschy lush colors that symbolize hope and desire, violence and the sky, air and light hide a more serious intentto create a contemporary way of telling a story through an abstract montage of intercut blackrimmed images the meanings of which are left up to the spectators imagination.

The artist is a teller of tales, updating old fashioned narrative painting and re-gendering the protagonist as female. In her painting, Beauty and the Beast, Fridriks tells a story about the male who stays above it all and who floats detached and watches the female. She dances to the beat of the city, involved and enmeshed, and changes his life when she suddenly looks up and meets his gaze. Surveillance is transfigured into human connection. She touches him, she moves on, he is changed. This is the story of the art of Fridriks--people touching one another, coming together and making a new world out of happiness. Refusing fear and separation and courting dreams of pleasure, Beauty and the Beast moves the rhythms of the outer and the urban into the interior of the gallery. Katrin Fridriks transforms the pure white cube into a totally saturating experience.

Entranced, the viewer watches. The image is more beguiling than reality. This is the prime directive of our lives in the Twenty-First Century.

This is painting that deconstructs painting and reanimates the dream of being everywhere at once.
We are at play.
We touch music.
We are immersed in the flowing energy of life.
We paint to life.

1997 Oct. Lauréate competition - Foundation 3 Suisse / Paris France
1998 April - / First French Contemporary ART-CDROM
youngest artist and first selling artist
1998 June - Competition Contrexeville 2nd Award Winner.
2000 Sept.- Animation L.A Award. Best Show with "Absolut Vodka"

1990 July September
Exhibition "Ligne Roset" Germany
1991-1992 October February
Exhibition " Gallery Behr " Germany
1995 Mars - April
Exhibition " Niels Paris " France
1995 June July
Exhibition: " The Opening of Barfly Paris " France
1996 January
Exhibition " Bains Douches Paris" France
1996 May - December
Permanente exhibition " Gallery Chourlet pl. des Vosges Paris " France
1997 May
Exhibition, performance for 2000 people. Painting a special order for
Hugo Boss. / Paris-France
1997 October
Exhibition at the foundation of 3 Suisse / Paris - France
1997 December
Exhibition the " Theatre of Paris " and gallery "Lefor Openo"
Rue Mazarine. Paris France
1998 Mars
Invitation cards for T Mugler
1998 June
Exhibition of 18 best selected artists for "Contrexville Competition"
1998 July August
Group exhibition at "Gallery W" Paris- France
1998 September
Exhibition at the Designer Fair " Salon WHOS NEXT "
1999 January
Exhibition of a totem 24m_ with blacklight/ flour effects
1999 February
Exhibition at "STUDIO VICTOIRE" Paris - France
1999 March
Exhibition of 75 best selected artists in France from ArtCom Cd-Rom
1999 September
ABSOLUT VODKA exhibition at
2000 January
Preparing New Dishware Collection for 2002

Guy Debord, The Society of Spectacle, 1994
Hal Foster. Recodings. Art, Spectacle, Cultural Politics, 1985
John G. Hanhardt. Video Culture. A Critical Investigation, 1986
Douglas Kellner. Media Culture, 1995
Margot Lovejoy. Postmodern Currents. Art and Artists in the Age of Electronic Media, 1997
Mark Poster, The Mode of Information, 1990
Paul Schimmel. Out of Actions. Between Performance and the Object 1949 1979, 1998
Mitchell Stephens. The Rise of the Image, The Fall of the Word, 1998

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Katrin Fridriks (b. 1974)

Katrin was born in 1974 in Reykjavik – Iceland, and grew up in Luxembourg and Germany. After a couple of years spent in Paris where she exhibited her first paintings at the age of 20, KF then moved to the United States.  She currently lives and works between Paris and Luxembourg.  KF has dual nationality from Iceland and Luxembourg.

Through her hyperkinetic abstract paintings, Fridriks fuses the natural energies of her native Iceland – fire, water, earth and air – with contemporary pop art, graffiti and calligraphic references to create a unique visual universe.  Her passion for architecture inspired her to create conceptual installations still using canvas and paint.  Beyond her resolutely modern pictorial expression, Katrin Fridriks is continuing her research into matter and color with the avowed intent to place technique at the service of artistic expression.

Fridriks has previously received grant support from the Minister for Culture in Luxembourg as well as a high-profile commission from the French Government in 2007.  She also presented at the Liverpool Biennial in 2008, at the Grand Palais – Paris “Tag & Graff” exhibition in 2009 and has undertaken commercial commissions for premium global brands, such as “Land Rover’s 60th anniversary” event, Polo Jeans Co Ralph Lauren for the "Art Stars" project.  Katrin Fridriks exhibits in Europe (Berlin, London, Paris, Ghent) and in the USA.

Sources :
Submitted by Emeline Gougeon

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