Peony, Gang of Youths, Sestriere, 2021
Mixed media on canvas
Van de Weghe is pleased to present concurrent exhibitions of paintings by Frederic Anderson at 1018 Madison Avenue, 521 West 23rd Street, and at 66 Newtown Lane, East Hampton. Anderson explores translation of gestural mark-making between drawing and painting. Below is an excerpt from an interview with Frederic Anderson by Art Historian Alex Bacon, BA of Art History: University of Michigan, MA of Art & Archaeology: Princeton University, PhD of Art & Archaeology: Princeton University, that was conducted in October 2021. The interview in its entirety will be included in the forthcoming catalogue to be published January 2022.
AB: So what is the painting process like? Is it just scaling up the drawings or is there another phase of intuition?
FA: The painting process is very, very different. It's much slower. It takes a lot more time. In my mind, [the drawing] solves all the problems in the composition, so when I transpose it into a painting I'm aiming to create an exact replica of the drawing with all the micro tensions between the different marks. I want to make all the relationships as precise as I can get them. So [the paintings are not] always exactly the same as the drawing, but the tensions between the marks and the relationships between them are as close as I can get them. For example, if one mark ends up being a little bit fatter in the painting than it was in the drawing, then all the marks are a little bit fatter. This way the same relationships are maintained, even though the painting is slightly different.
AB: Hmm. It’s quite interesting, right, to try and maintain the same mood [as the drawings], but perhaps in order to do that you have to work very differently… [The painting process] is sort of the opposite of that spontaneous and quick action that you characterized the drawings as…
FA: It's strange. I didn't realize this straight away. I thought about it later, and it relates to an exercise that I did in drawing class one time. The teacher got us to paste a piece of paper on the wall and then draw a series of defects in the wall, you know, like little holes, little cracks and things like that. [She wanted us to] try and get them exactly right. I thought she meant the position of them, so I drew the position of the holes that I was focused on. She came back to me and had a look, and she was really disappointed. She said, “I think you can do better than that.” What she wanted me to capture was the specific character, feeling and shape of each hole. I'd overlooked that. She wanted absolute precision, and that's what I try and do. When I'm transferring from the drawings to the paintings I try and really preserve the exact character of each each mark. With the drawings, I'm thinking about the composition as a whole and with the paintings I'm breaking it down and sort of recreating each individual mark very, very slowly. Right at the end I resolve it into an overall composition. But I think it partly relates to that [drawing] exercise. And it's interesting, it's something that happens to me a lot in my life, my mind gets snagged on these moments, like that disappointment that my teacher had in me. It's totally stayed with me, it's there with me every day in the studio. And so in a way, it makes sense for me to make these paintings that are really detailed reenactments of very quick moments that have extended over a really long time of over-analyzing. It's kind of, yeah, something that happens in my life.