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Suzan Frecon: oil paintings and sun

Text by David Cohen

Suzan Frecon: oil paintings and sun documents Frecon’s third solo exhibition at David Zwirner in New York, held in 2015, and is the most vivid presentation to date of the artist’s engagement with natural light, the always-varying subtleties of which she integrates into how the painting is created.

For the past four decades, Suzan Frecon has become known for abstract oil paintings and watercolors that avoid facile explanations or recognizable visual associations. Instead, compositions integrate color, surface, and light to create an abstract visual reality that she intends to exist solely on its strength as art. In a deliberative and searching process, she works toward painting that provides a complex, powerful, and inexplicable experience for the viewer. As she has stated, “The physical reality and the spiritual content of my paintings are the same.” 

The focal point of the catalogue is the painstakingly reproduced color plates of fourteen recent paintings, many of which are depicted several times in various types of light and from multiple angles, allowing the reader to experience the work in a way that is more akin to seeing them in person. In addition, it features an illuminating and lively essay by art writer David Cohen, which strives to explain the complexity of viewing and experiencing Frecon’s work. Rounding out the catalogue are numerous details and installation views, atmospheric color photographs of the artist’s studio and materials, and an illustrated visual appendix showing a selection of Frecon’s reference sources for the comprised works, including insightful commentary written by the artist.

Frecon’s work “has a deeper, quieter kind of originality: a sense of unassailable integrity and the fullness of form.”

– Roberta Smith, The New York Times

“This work, like a number of others in the show, evokes the experience of nature without relying on descriptive elements.”

– David Ebony, Artnet News

“Since the turn of the century, Frecon has developed an open and flexible language that is recognizably hers. It is a language that asks questions rather than offers answers. It does so without cynicism, sarcasm, or male adolescent chest thumping. At a time when many institutions and observers continue to claim that painting is an obsolete practice, Frecon has quietly become a major artist.”

– John Yau, Hyperallergic

“While [Frecon’s] edge-to-edge saturated color leaves no room for breath or escape, its perfection elicits no desire to leave.”

– Carol Diehl, ARTnews

Suzan Frecon: oil painting and sun is “a fine record of the exhibition and contains a thoughtful essay by David Cohen as well as short texts by the artist that reflect on her process as well as on specific sources of inspiration.”

– David Rhodes, Artcritical

“Now in her mid seventies, this verteran abstractionist specializes in nuanced interplays of color and composition, using simple, often rounded forms in a subtle range of hues. Just as important is her surface treatment, which can suddenly shift from flat to glossy in the same painting.”

– Staff, Time Out New York

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