A lively spirit as well as a gutsy artist, Fritsche pours everything into each piece, hence their extravagant size and textures. Her work has a New York City 1980’s feel even though she is a native Californian. Her palette, technique, style and energy is reminiscent of the works of iconic painters Jean Michele- Basquiat or David Wajanorwitz. A kind of raw exposure to her inner core driven by what angers her, ignites her or longs for, each piece is a very raw story all providing insight into the artist herself.
When I first stumbled upon her work in a group show “Feminine Mystique” curated by Daniel Schuster, at the Santa Monica Bergamot Station, I was immediately drawn to her work. I didn’t know anything about Barbara except that her paintings allowed me to make up vivid stories about their meaning. Not all artists have that effect on the viewer, mostly the work is straightforward or their meaning exposed in the description and title. Given that Barbara is female artist it is easier for me to relate to certain subject matters such as “Social Media”, “Why Are You Here” and “Oil and Guts.” There was something unusually raw about her style and message that isn’t found as much (right now) in the figurative art world. The idea that she has the balls to place these day-to-day regular objects into already profound pieces, which doesn’t subtract any depth but adds a playful, satirical point of view is very gutsy for a woman. Upon meeting Barbara, she is everything you hope she’d be a spunky, wise woman with a smile to elevate any soul. We sat down for a lunch and discussed how her work came to be and what we can expect for the future.
Each piece has a story...it could be why I start the piece or while creating, it can come from my inspiration and journey of what stimulated me. There comes the most memorable moment, an intuitive sense (it can be a visual moment) while exploring using new material and a feelings “to be free,” driven to produce meditations on life, both from a real-time perspective, and a time–lapse notion, a slice of everyday existence, that brings to a head the trials of life as we know it.
Can you elaborate on your latest commission “OIL AND GUTS?”
While painting “OIL AND GUTS” one evening I decided to open my truck port to enjoy a warm, beautiful Ojai evening when an army of B52 squadron of flying insects came in and flew right into my, Sunset, many layers of oil paint and got stuck...I said “Oh my God, look at all those GUTS.”
I love space; open, nature, form and I have a respect for our resources. My goal was to show one of our resources, oil, in a positive light, just one of our great assets that can be drawn on when required, with a respect to our land, environment, and the blue collar worker.
What are some of the mediums you choose to and prefer to work with? Which of those did you experiment with for the last time with?
I’ve worked in oil’s mostly. I have dabbled in watercolors, charcoal, graphite, ink and oil sticks. My new series is mixed media, experimenting with a combination of many, charcoal add oil primer, house paint, paper, plastic fabric, mirror, thread, using many different size palette knives, big brushes, on mahogany board and wrapped in canvas, gesso and primers for texture. “Social Media” is example of combination.
Discuss the visual narrative in your head for “Why Are You Here?”
It started with a late night workshop at my studio in Ojai. There were, if I’m remembering right, 5 art models posing. Using this pose and creating my own set in my head, creating a highly stylized rendition of the moment. I saw it as a dramatic moment often in conjunction with couples. If you notice the fireman putting out the fire and a reference to Hiroshima, have you not asked your self, why are you here?
What inspires you to create such large pieces? Can you discuss the process and your workspace, which is an actual airplane hanger?
Freedom. As long as I can remember I’ve loved space. I grew up backpacking the Sierra’s, Muir Trail, falling asleep under the stars, remembering attending painting with Michael Ward, showing up with canvases that just got bigger, tying to fit them in my VW bug. Driving down the freeway praying they wouldn’t blow away. The form takes a real life size image in my mind. How I get there is a real-time perspective, like looking at the sky, the mountains, cities, It’s automatic, space, freedom, it’s how I value life. I liked my loft DTLA, 2500 sq. 22ft. ceilings but I wanted more space. I found this hanger at Santa Paula Airport it’s a cool fit for hanging “OIL AND GUTS” 144”(H) x 576”(L) x 2”(D) 18 mahogany board canvas wrapped panels, Union Oil started here in SP. There’s lots of history here. My New Series (still in progress) are large pieces and will all be the same size 96”(H) x 48”(L) mahogany board wrapped in canvas / mixed media, oil paint.
From cave paintings to present, capturing the figure, a timeless source of inspiration, and a subject that will never die has been preserved in countless creations. Drawing it, painting it, capturing movement, sexuality, passion, emotion, spirit…. Whether its line, color, form the composition, endless is, caravanning together, fueled by current insanity of life problems. A challenge always, lending past and present.
Barbara Fritsche’s current works address the surreal, intangible world of social media, memories, dreams and relationships, embracing the beautiful, bizarre and melancholic. She is driven to produce meditations on life, both from a real-time perspective, and a time–lapse notion, a slice of everyday existence, that brings to a head the trials of life, as we know it.