Rocker-Turned-Painter Justine Frischmann Brings London Grime to VOLTA NY

Mar 1, 2016 9:29PM

Even if you’ve haven’t seen her paintings, you might be familiar with Justine Frischmann’s work. She’s best known for her past career as a musician, specifically as the founder and frontwoman of Elastica, the post-punk Britpop band that topped the UK charts in the mid-1990s. Since the band split up in 2001, Frischmann has reinvented herself and applied her creative talents to another medium—painting.

Frischmann left the London rock ’n’ roll scene to study painting at Naropa University, a liberal arts college in Boulder, Colorado, and eventually moved to the Bay Area, where she has quietly established her practice. But she wasn’t entirely new to the visual art world when she relocated to the U.S. She has an educational background in architecture, a fact that’s evident in her latest works, now on view at George Lawson Gallery in San Francisco and at VOLTA NY.

Indeed, there are architectural elements to Frischmann’s new “Lambent” series, particularly in pieces like Lambent #84 and Lambent #74. These prismatic paintings are explorations of light; at times they are delicate and glowing, as if reflecting a gentle glare.

It’s an effect she achieves through process and material. “I often start by surfing the web for images I like,” she has said. “If I find something inspiring, I seem to get a little flash of energy, it seems to spark the right kind of chemistry in my brain to get me moving.” Using a sublimation print of that image as a base, she then layers oil paint and acrylic spray enamel over each aluminum panel, creating pieces that are ephemeral, translucent, almost iridescent.

Yet for all their muted beauty, there’s something raw, even fierce in Frischmann’s broad white brushstrokes, furiously and haphazardly applied over the metallic surface. It’s something more reminiscent of the graffiti-lined streets of London than the rolling hills of Marin County. Despite her bucolic surroundings, that punk spirit hasn’t fully disappeared. “The edge is inside,” Frischmann has said.


Bridget Gleeson

Justine Frischmann’s paintings are on view at George Lawson Gallery, San Francisco, Apr. 13–May 28, 206, and at VOLTA NY, Mar. 2–6, 2016.

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