press release

The Jack Shainman is proud to present its fourth solo exhibition of "Recent Paintings" by Till Freiwald. The exhibition will consist of small watercolors painted directly from a model and large watercolors painted subsequently from memory. In his new work, Freiwald's masterly handling of his medium and overall sensitivity to color are emphasized in subtle but striking ways.

For nearly a decade, Freiwald, a German artist now living in Brussels, has made the one-to-one encounter between artist and model the central fact of his work. Counter to the historical tendency of painters over the past four decades, from Richter to Close to Tuymans, to see painting as a response to or interpretation of the photographic image, Freiwald's work returns the artist to a central position as the mediator or interpreter of what one sees.

Working directly with a sitter over many hours, Freiwald's concentrated looking and the slow accretion of the layers of watercolor refute the "truth" of the photographic moment. Freiwald's work does not disprove the photographic understanding of reality but does suggest that there are other equally real views. Addressing this question, Freiwald has said:

"It doesn't mean that I don't like to look at photos but they're just not a source of inspiration. They don't awake inside of me any desire for painting."

This process, as well as its limits, also set Freiwald apart from other contemporaries working in watercolor whose choice of more active or complicated imagery is as much about drawing as Freiwald's work is about painting. The simplicity of Freiwald's format, closely cropped heads with just a bare suggestion of a shirt or shoulder, provide little overall detail, leaving large expanses of the paper occupied by the color of skin-tones.

Responding the importance of his model's shirt color in affecting the skin-tones and colors, as well as the overall mood of the finished paintings, Freiwald began considering colored backgrounds for his figures. But rather than just introduce the color to the painted surface late in the process, he began to prepare for his sessions with a model by hand painting large monochromatic backdrops before he begins work. These backdrops allow Freiwald to see the sitters "in a different light" and add a new and emotionally strong underpinning to his process.

Recent solo exhibitions include The Boise Art Museum, Boise, ID and the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MS. His works are included in the collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH, The Kemper Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO, and The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu, HI.


Till Freiwald - Recent Paintings