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Pia Fries | K√ľnstlerverein Malkasten

Pia Fries, durch Sieben mk (detail), acrylic and screen print on paper, 2022.
Photo © Hans Brändli.

Pia Fries
durch sieben siebe

Künstlerverein Malkasten
Jacobistraße 6a
40211 Düsseldorf

14 March - August 2023

Pictures can be deceiving. They can cast doubt on reality, break rules, completely reshape the familiar with the unknown. Irritation and illusion are among the oldest strategies in painting. Pia Fries uses them as a means of questioning the fundamentals of the discipline. "through seven siebe" is the title of the artist's exhibition at two locations of the artists' association Malkasten. A total of nine works on paper convey an impression of her constant search for new forms of appearance. Eight of them date from 2002. They are presented in the Lido Bar in the paint box. The exhibition title work "through seven sieves" from 2022 is shown in the rotunda of the Hentrichhaus.

In her work, Pia Fries deals with the basic elements of painting. She examines surface, form and color for their very own qualities and emphasizes their ability to transform one another in the picture. For painting, she places the carrier material on the floor or table. She pours oil paints out of cans, squeezes them out of tubes or with lever presses, piles tough paint into reliefs or lets diluted paints run together to form streaks. With brushes, spatulas, rakes and other tools, some of which she has built herself, she mixes, blurs, layers or furrows the material in a process of planning, intuition, chance and arbitrariness. Only in interaction does the effect of the individual colors unfold, which are sometimes matt, sometimes shiny, sometimes hard, sometimes soft or impasto and translucent. For the design, Pia Fries mainly chooses abstract, non-representational forms. Many take up the gestures of the artist, who walks around the painting surface over time, twists and turns and works on it from all possible perspectives.

Since the year 2000, Pia Fries has combined this type of painting with graphic prints. This is characterized in particular by the emphasis on the line. The artist often picks up historical graphics, which she places on her image carriers as reproductions using the screen printing process. Hendrick Goltzius' copperplate engraving of Hercules Farnese served as a model for the work “through seven sieves”, which she chose as the title motif for this exhibition of the same name. In the 16th century, Goltzius made it for study purposes based on an antique sculpture. It was a Roman copy of a Greek original by Lysippus, who was born around 400. Pia Fries removed the motif from its historical context. In a fragmented and color-altered form, she metaphorically transferred the image "through seven sieves" to the present.

In addition to historical prints, Pia Fries also uses photographic elements. They can be understood in the exhibits of this exhibition via the works on brown paper and rediscovered in the combinations of color painting and screen printing. In these cases, the artist did not find inspiration in figurative representations, but in the painting utensils themselves. She chose crumpled paper or sculptures made of paint as motifs, which she formed according to sculptural aspects, detached from the picture carrier. Fries also placed these color models on a mirror. She then captured the resulting dichotomy of image and likeness in photographs. Edited again, she then transferred the photographic image to the background of the image using screen printing.

Pia Fries uses variation, irritation and reproduction as methods to alienate the familiar, to connect the past and the present and to break old viewing habits. Color as appearance and material is her means of choice to awaken new stimuli in consciousness. "For me it's about [...] forces that show themselves - want to show themselves", explains the artist.

* translation from German



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