Krzis-Lorent FrédériqueK and the Lives of Women

Sauge, Paintings24 x 36

If unabashed beauty is the last taboo in fine art, fortunately the French painter Krzis-Lorent FrédériqueK chooses to ignore it. For FrédériqueK’s oils on canvas celebrate the female form, as well as the occasional landscape subject, in a manner that, while thoroughly contemporary, harks back to periods before the cult of ugliness came to rule certain precincts of the art world.
    Although she acknowledges the influence of ancient Greek sculpture, the masters of the Italian Renaissance, the post-Impressionists –– and even Abstract Expressionists like Mark Rothko for their formal qualities –– her paintings also show a kinship with more down-to-earth ancestors like Jules Pascin and Toulouse-Lautrec who also depicted intimate moments in the lives of women, be they in the boudoir or the brothel.
     As with the latter master of the Moulin Rouge, much of the appeal of FrédériqueK ’s compositions springs from her consummate draftspersonship. And like him as well, she often handles oil washes with a translucent delicacy one associates more often with watercolor, to let her drawing ability shine through, and has a tendency to leave empty space around her figures in order to let her compositions “breathe.”
    This device is especially striking in the painting FrédériqueK calls “Sauge,” in which the areas of virgin white-primed canvas around the figure enhance the ethereal effect of her luxuriant light blond hair and ivory complexion in a manner that makes her full, ruby-red lips stand out like exclamation points. Here, too, the subject’s filmy red garment, suggesting a gossamer gown or negligee, adds a subtle eroticism which underlies the overall purity of the image.
    Equally exquisite for FrédériqueK ’s handling of white space is “Deroute,” a diptych depicting a lissome young model in a short white nightgown reclining on a white sheet, her white thighs bare, her lower legs sheathed in sheer gray stockings, her feet in silky purple spike-heeled shoes stretching all the way to the far edge of the second of the two closely joined canvases. Although she is lying on her stomach, as though sleeping, one of her slender arms reaching down from the bed to rest on the floor, her eyes are wide open, as though she has just flung herself down in a state of weariness or a fit of pique over an evening out that has ended badly. As in many of  FrédériqueK ’s paintings, this picture projects the sense of an ongoing drama, of a scene in a narrative. 
    The figure in another painting by FrédériqueK, entitled “Silence,” is evoked in a more full-bodied manner, with soft, feathery strokes of pigment covering the entire canvas with color in a manner that lends her a more palpably physical quality than the girls in the previous two paintings. Another slender beauty, with flowing hair and vaguely Eurasian features, seen from the waist up, she appears to be an active contemporary young woman on the go. The blurred shapes in the background suggest that she may moving among crowded city streets; yet with one shoulder raised defensively, her mouth making a moue, she maintains her distance, her silence.
    By contrast the three elegantly coifed and chicly dressed young harpies in “Gossip” might be as appealing as “The Three Graces,” if only they could cultivate silence as well. But they, too, are part of the feminine drama that  FrédériqueK  depicts so insightfully and with such formidable formal beauty. –– Peter Wylie  

Krzis-Lorent FrédériqueK, Agora Gallery 530 West 25th St.,  February 7 - 27, 2013. Reception: Thurs. February 7,  6 - 8pm.

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