Clouds of pastel colours are imbued with poetry at Parasol Unit. The work of Monique Frydman displayed on both the first and second floor speaks its own language through a palette of profound and deep hues and a playful light. Large scale canvases demonstrate Frydman’s ability to handle the transmutation of her feelings onto a vast surface.
During the panel discussion between London-based poet, art critic, fiction writer and magazine editor, Michael Glover, and Dr. Ziba Ardalan, founder/director of Parasol Unit, the artist unveiled her true meaning of colour which is to be enjoyed in a structured way, invoking feelings of exaltation especially with reference to strong tones. Red triumphs in the Polyptyque Sassetta, an installation made of panels comprised of canvases and created in homage to early Renaissance artist Stefano di Giovanni’s masterwork: sixty panels, many of which have since been dispersed, lost or irreparably damaged. With this piece, Frydman suggests that she is taking responsibility for participation in the reconstruction of an emblematic piece of art from a fellow artist whom she empathises with. She seemingly possesses the ability to reconnect with ancient masters by utilising the language of painting. The brushstrokes thus become a code, letters, and the entire art piece perhaps a letter, a message to which she can instantly relate due to her long-time experience.
With Des saisons avec Bonnard, the artist confessed her imaginary proximity to the late painter while working on the canvases. She once again pays homage to a great figure of painting and borrows windows, tiles and random rooms of a house to reinterpret the structure into her own vision. This series transcribes a dolce candy-like world where kindness and serenity swirl and invite the audience to take part in a poetic voyage. While travelling to her studio, she takes her “companions” Matisse, Stefano di Giovanni and Bonnard with her. As she rubs pastel on to raw linen canvases, she subtly makes the statement that art has no time and that Lascaux is equal to contemporary art.
Some of the pieces hung on the wall are unusual in their structure in comparison with all the others. Contrary to what one may think, they are not sculptures and Frydman hopes that they will still be recognised as paintings. Made of brick and paint, they strongly manifest the artist’s youth in Toulouse, where houses were constructed using red brick. It seems that the exploration of the past through these pieces, analogous to the work of an archaeologist reveals a certain nostalgia to which the audience can easily relate.
Upon listening attentively to Frydman sit through the typical questions one wants to ask an artist and to which the latter sometimes awkwardly responds, I found myself intrigued by the process of her work compared with the outcome. The more I got to know about the homages, the closeness she contrives to surround herself with the imaginary presence of these late artists, and the uncertain replies she gives when asked what the brick pieces are, the more I felt relieved to have found in the paintings the quality of a strong, silent persona. Even the darkest canvases which I believe could hide unsettling feelings, are inhabited by the unshakable presence of composure and compassion.
Monique Frydman at Parasol Unit (7 June – 12 August 2017)