Review by Margaret Hawkins, art critic; Published in Art News (October 2007)
"Rose Freymuth-Frazier’s oil paintings – represented here by ten portraits and two renderings of flamboyant women’s shoes – have an irresistible but guilt-inducing appeal. Her sensuous confections veer toward the corny soft porn of romance-novel covers but imbue the subjects with unexpected intensity.
The flesh of the figures, which are almost always alluring, sometimes nude, women, glows with a kind of overheated ardor. The subjects are ripe, even when they appear to be dressed in mourning, as in “Dahlia” (2007). “Redhead” (2006) places a classic temptress of this genre in front of a juicy gray-green background swimming with light. The subject’s skin is milky, her exposed breasts ample. With her sexy elbow-length black lace gloves, her closed eyes, and her expectant expression, she appears both brazen and innocent.
Freymuth-Frazier pays the same attention to the details of desire and fetish in the depictions of shoes, like the painful-looking platforms in “Electric Blue Luscious” (2007), but it is in her portraits that she demonstrates her chops.
“Dina (Singer)” (2006), is a head shot of young black girl in Rasta braids and an orange jacket, drenched in light. This painting, like all Freymuth-Frazier’s soulful portraits set against glowing grounds, suggests a slightly seedy, slightly cheesy, and highly seductive nightlife."
-Margaret Hawkins, ARTnews Oct 2007
Review by Alan Artner, Tribune art critic; Published in Chicago Tribune (November 9, 2007)
"Painterly figures with an edge of feminine mystery."
"Rose Freymuth-Frazier is a figurative painter in her late 20s who has studied with Steven Assael and Odd Nerdrum. Her large solo exhibition at the Ann Nathan Gallery indicates she combines the contemporary subjects of the former with the backward-looking romance of the latter while attempting to give a feminist spin of her own.
Most of the oils on view are portraits of young women. They sport tattoos, wear provocative clothes and toy with props, such as handcuffs and a baseball bat, that suggest sexual provocation and violence. The artist has written that she is interested in the "mythology, objectification and subjugation of women."
Freymuth-Frazier conveys the mythology by making her women look like odalisques and femmes fatale from past epochs. The objectification presumably comes across through a style of presentation frequently indistinguishable from 19th Century pictorial titillation and 20th Century art of the pinup. The subjugation of women is not apparent in the work on view unless one sees the poses of self-assertion and tease as attempts to break out.
The artist's style is relatively soft and romantic, even theatrical, when her themes would seem to demand a harder, more objective approach. So the pieces sometimes look like what the artist declares herself against, and one cannot be sure if she wants to go further than words to make the paintings' style as edgy as the distractions of their content."
-Alan Artner, Chicago Tribune, November 9, 2007
American Art Collector Magazine, September, 2010
Extended Interview with American Art Collector Magazine, September 2010
AACM: How many paintings are you doing for your upcoming 2-person show with Bruno Surdo at Ann Nathan gallery?
RFF: I hope to have 10 pieces in the show.
AACM: What ideas/themes are you dealing with in your new paintings right now? In what way are these works fresh?
RFF: At the moment my paintings are about the underbelly of the feminine projection of beauty. My work is also about the expectations of gender roles and what is suppressed by those expectations. They bridge an apparent contradiction between superficial beauty and emotional authenticity. I intend them to present seemingly opposing visions in one unified expression.
AACM: Stylistically and/or technically speaking, what do you want art collectors to notice in your new work?
RFF: My technical approach has become more and more rigorous. I want to paint the most beautiful painting possible, regardless of its subject matter. I want the viewer to be drawn in by an elegant, refined veneer and while they are there I want them to face whatever issues the painting raises. I hope that the implications are nebulous enough that each individual viewer may find their own personal meaning.
AACM: Over all, how would you describe the scenes in the new work?
RFF: I’m not interested in overt context or narrative. The “scene” is set on an internal, psychological stage. The subjective experience I portray is that of the feminine. The backgrounds are void, and the narrative aspects are limited to the corporeality of the women.
AACM: In this new body of work, which paintings best illustrate what you are trying to convey to the viewer?
RFF: “Hounded” has the qualities, both technically and emotionally that I am after in my work. “Self-Portrait as Reclining Hermaphrodite” was painted after I saw “Sleeping Hermaphrodite”, the 2nd century AD, Roman marble sculpture at the Louvre. The sculpture is so gentle, really fine. I wanted to paint something with a similar feeling but with contemporary implications.
AACM: Why do you think the gallery paired you and Bruno Surdo together in this show? What do you see as similarities and/or differences in your work?
RFF: Well, I think we both take a minimalist approach to portraying the painted figure and use it as a vehicle to explore aspects of the human dilemma.
“Addressing the Human Figure” by Ann Nichols
Extended interview with the Chattanooga Times Free Press, August, 2010
RFF: Oil on linen
CTFP: Did you work from life?
RFF: I worked from a combination of photographs and sketches.
CFTP: What do you hope the viewer gleans from looking “Whispering Sisters”?
RFF: I hope each viewer has a personal take on this painting based on the circumstances of their own life. I can say that these women are really sisters; they are both friends of mine. They look and act similarly and yet their personalities and chosen paths in life are quite different from one another. I was interested in what lies under the surface of a family. There’s also something of a conspiratorial superiority that can happen within groups such as families, a banding together which creates a default outsider. The viewer participates as the third member of this triangle.
CFTP: Why the handcuffs?
RFF: The handcuffs can be seen as the family ties that bind, DNA, heritage, the shared experience of childhood. It’s like an unelected marriage, for better or worse. There is no breaking that blood bond.
CTFP: What is the occasion at which these 2 women find themselves?
RFF: This piece has the most overt context of any of my paintings. I intended it to have the feeling of an old drawing room and the urns behind the sisters to hold something of the past but also the inevitable future for each woman.
CFTP: What art historical figures serve as influences in all your work?
RFF. Chaim Soutine, Van Gogh, Egon Schiele, Frida Kahlo and Leonor Fini are the artists who initially got me painting. After I saw Odd Nerdrum’s work I turned toward a more studied realism and now I’d say recent influences would include Nerdrum and Steven Assael, because I studied under both of them and of course the old masters, Rembrandt, Velasquez, Caravaggio in particular. I also find myself looking to more contemporary visual media. David Lynch always gets me going. I really like Helmut Newton and I just bought a book on Alexander McQueen.
Extended Interview for American Artist Magazine - September, 2012
AAM: Where did you grow up?
RFF: I was born at home in what had been an old miner’s cabin in a little Gold Rush town called Nevada City, California. I left for school when I was 16 years old. Both of my parents still live there.
AAM: Do you recall any early influences that may have steered you towards art making?
RFF: My grandmother turned 95 this year. For most of her life she took beautiful, stark black and white photographs, first documenting her youth in Germany, then exile in the Dominican Republic and finally abstract elements of the natural world on the East Coast of the United States. Her daughter, (my mother), headed to the woods of Northern California in the 1960’s, became a ceramic sculptor, and made folk-art inspired sculptures, often hand built from locally dug clay and pit fired. I grew up with the contrasting influences from both my mother and my grandmother and find myself somewhere in between. I gravitate towards austerity and craftsmanship, precision and technical refinement but also get my hands dirty, sculpting the form with oils. Growing up, the arts were always encouraged and the fact that I became a painter is not at all surprising.
AAM: When did you know for sure that this would be your life calling?
RFF: Still don’t know that for sure! I began studying painting in earnest when I was 24. I think people have a creative drive looking for an outlet, painting just happened to be the route I took.
AAM: Where and with whom did you study? Did this comprise formal art schooling or study with a specific master artist –or some combination thereof?
RFF: I knew I didn’t want a typical art-school education. I initially studied at the Art Students League of New York where I was monitor to Gregg Kreutz for two years. Then choosing to seek training directly from living masters, I spent two years assisting Steven Assael in his New York City studio and also traveled to Norway to study under Odd Nerdrum at his farm on the North Sea.
AAM: Are there other artists both historical and contemporary who have influenced you? What other artists, both historical and contemporary, do you admire?
RFF: Of course, I take a huge inspiration from my mentors, Steven Assael and Odd Nerdrum. I also love the old masters, Rembrandt in particular. Recently I’ve been looking at Kathe Kollwitz, Chaim Soutine, Bouguereau, The Unicorn Tapestries, Botticelli, Frida Kahlo, Van Gogh, Julie Heffernan and John Currin.
AAM: Can you say a few words about your working process—both as it relates to your painting in general and specifically about your self-portrait? In the latter did you work entirely form life or do you work from drawings, studies or photographs---how does that compare to your usual process? Is this the first time you have posed for yourself? Did you learn anything in the process that can be useful in other genres?
RFF: “Self-Portrait in Moonlight” was done from life during a time when that was the only way I worked. I have since discovered the wonders of modern photography and use photographs in my working process as well. I have begun to do oil sketches more often before starting a larger painting. I think best in paint and if I am working in pencil or charcoal I often feel edgy to get to the oils.
AAM: What supports, brushes and colors do you use---feel free to mention the name brands that you find superior.
RFF: I would discourage anyone from using “student grade paints”. It’s hard enough to learn how to paint without being handicapped by pigment-less goo. My standby is Winsor & Newton but for some special colors I love Sennelier and Holbein. My medium is Galkyd Lite by Gamblin and I like Claessens linen. I never get too fancy with brushes, using a combination of bristle and sable. I do use the fan brush to do most of my painting, not as a blender but as a broad, unfussy way to apply and control the paint.
AAM: Is there anything additional you would like to share with the American Artist audience about your process or subject matter? Are there any helpful hints or tips that you can share that can help them become better artists? What about advice to young people or those just starting out—do you have any words of wisdom or encouragement that you’d like to share?
RFF: Technique is important, but what you do with it is the real art. I have tried to hone a voice of my own while referencing the people who have influenced me. When beginning to train, I think students need a springboard, some kind of foundation on which to build. That’s what an initial technique can be, something that gets you inspired and motivated and shows you how to put one foot in front of the other. But the work continues and becomes more vital as one moves past the exercises and into creative independence. Remember to keep track of what you are trying to express, what the idea is that’s motivating the painting, and then execute it in a succinct, elegant, and direct manner.