Katrin Fridriks’s Explosive Paintings and Prints Channel Genetics and Black Holes
Katrin Fridriks has developed a unique painting style in which two-dimensional, abstract forms seem to leap from the picture plane in bright flares and explosions of pigment. They are as visually arresting as they are technically complex. Her newly released print, Royal Gene&Ethics (2015), exemplifies the artist’s energetic style and skillful handling of material.
Fridriks credits a wide range of inspirations in her work, including graffiti, Abstract Expressionism, calligraphy, and art history. “I have always been in some ways artistic,” she told Artsy recently. “At a very early age, I wanted to become an architect. I studied Japanese, and calligraphy led me to start painting, re-defining space and depth.” The environments that Fridriks experienced while growing up in Luxembourg and Germany are also very present in her artworks.
Her technique is the product of a deep understanding of her materials and a little act of fate that happened in the studio, years ago. Due to an accident while mixing black and white paints, she stumbled upon a combination that resembled naturally occurring forms. In the paint, she saw landscapes as if they were viewed from a satellite—“mini landscapes, rivers, veins, trees, or other similar shapes and forms,” she explains. “It was so real, surreal, and yet so simple.” Today, she continues to utilize this effect, manipulating paint by stacking colors and tones, dragging them in great physical sweeps and splatters across the canvas like a futuristic Jackson Pollock, or creating intricate marbled textures or fractal-like fields.
In recent series, Fridriks has incorporated extensive research, fusing perspectives on science and art. In an installation recently on view as part of the group exhibition “Personal Structures–Crossing Borders,” run concurrently with the 2015 Venice Biennale at the European Cultural Centre, she focused on the phenomenon of Stendhal Syndrome—a physical response to encountering artworks that can include rapid heartbeat or dizziness. In her work, Perception of the Stendhal Syndrome (2014/2015), Fridriks attempted to communicate experiences she has had while in the presence of works by great artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Anish Kapoor, and Gerhardt Richter.
A similar approach went into her new print, Royal Gene&Ethics, which is inspired by theories of genetics and the repercussions that genetic manipulation might hold for our future. The work is an eight-color screenprint, inspired by Fridriks’s painting of the same name, and was created in collaboration with Lazarides Editions in London. She has likened the work’s swirling composition to a black hole or the Big Bang. It is both a warning and a tribute to humanity’s potential.