Where Earth Meets Sky
92 Wythe Avenue
By Lance Esplund
The Wall Street Journal
January 8, 2011
Eastern exoticism has inspired Western artists for centuries. And the influence of Asia, from the painterly pictograms of Chinese calligraphy to the cartoonish high jinks of Takashi Murakami, is increasingly prevalent in American art.
Abstract painter Elise Freda works in encaustic and straddles a world somewhere between East and West. Her flat, hard-edged single-color rectangles cite European Modernism, and her gestural brushstrokes nod to Asian calligraphy.
Meditating on her surroundings -- the Catskills' fields, light, mountains and sky -- Ms. Freda infuses suggestions of natural elements (the movement of wind through branches; the color of fall foliage; a moonlit night) into her pared-down palette and calligraphic strokes.
In most of Ms. Freda's 29 pictures (all from 2010) there is discordance among the severe geometries, layered wax grounds and expressionistic strokes. But occasionally -- as in the fleeting black and white "Night Light," the rustling orange "Tilled Field," the delicate winter sunset "Western Sky" and the bold, muscular dance of blood and fire that is "Red Sky at Night" -- Ms. Freda, internalizing and synthesizing a range of influences, achieves brevity, poetry.
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