About my paintings
My focus has always been on abstract art. I'm attracted to its reduction of the "real", its essence, its total freedom of formulation. My interest is in the mathematics of the surface. Abstraction takes more that seeing - it takes contemplation. I want to elicit magic, a feeling of something that can't be grasped with the head only. Today’s pluralism suits my restless nature - I'm driven to move ahead - to reach beyond myself. I am only interested in the space of the forbidding white wall of the canvas. I make my way along it, unseeing - wanting to touch the magic stone - when it will open with a start and pull me inside into another reality - my world, where I feel invariably at home.
My grounding principals are clarity and structure, pared down to essential forms. As a timeless organizing principle, geometry is consistently the underlying matrix or architecture of my work. From this matrix, I bend lines to create a spatial reference, teasing apart the structure of my paintings. This quasi-symmetry is served well by my attention to the surfaces. Some are matte and austere -- the better to highlight the precise curved lines of the spaces I aim to define. Others I give a rich and luscious surface, which create a layering of soft, open spaces behind the curvilinear thin lines. They contain the surface space over a soft, undulating chromatic field.
I have mixed metallic pigments, like aluminum and graphite, into my oils on canvas and linen. Mica particles mixed in with the oil and pigments enhance that reflectivity, and shift one’s perception of the painting’s coloration as light moves across its surface. My aim is to explore the contrast of painterly surface with the overlying architecture. I like the juxtaposition of the expressive space underneath the cool and edgy lines crossing it.
The background of my paintings is applied in partially translucent layers until it becomes satisfying all-over image on its own. Only then do I fuse it with the geometric structure, covering the surface with angular or circular bands, some connecting to the edge of my painting space and others just floating on top.
My practice shifts between painting and drawing. My processes for the two are quite different.
About my drawings
My drawings happen intuitively and quickly, in an intense and fast action, almost obsessively adding layers of ink, charcoal, conte crayon, metallic sticks to hand-made sheets of Japanese paper, such as Kozo (made from mulberry trees) or Gampi (made from the Gampi bush).
I work until the drawing has its own center or irrevocably a raison d’être. My work on mylar evolves over a longer period of time. Using a mixture of ink and water based media, I aim to create layered, expressionistic, abstract compositions, often using both the front and back of the semi-translucent surface in order to add dimensionality and depth. Most of all, I want to seduce the viewer into an experience of mystery and beauty.
Gudrun Mertes-Frady is a New York-based abstract artist whose work blends geometric structure with intuitive, painterly explorations of color and line. Mertes-Frady was born in Cologne, Germany. She studied painting and art history at the Cologne Academy of Fine and Applied Arts. Raised in a family of architects, Mertes-Frady learned early on to appreciate the visual language of the grid. Her background led her to appreciate the structure of paintings by Constructivist artists like Malevich and Bauhaus artists like Mondrian. After extensive travels in Europe and the United States, she moved to New York in 1981, where she maintained studios over many years in the Garment District, on East 29th Street, Soho and China Town. During this time she exhibited extensively in Germany, Cologne, Berlin, Weimar and Karlsruhe and the United States (New York City, Atlanta, GA, Saint Paul, MN, with reviews in Art in America, Artnews, NY Times, NY Observer, Der Tagesspiegel, Die Welt and others. In 1998, Mertes-Frady moved to Brooklyn, NY, where she now lives and works. Her work is represented in numerous public and private collections including The Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard University; The Rockefeller University. New York City; Werner Kramasky Collection, NY; Cohen and Lord, Malibu, CA, Thomas Weisel Partners, San Francisco, CA and the Rockefeller Universiy, NYC, Universal Music, London, UK. Cambridge, MA, Collection of Gwyneth Paltrow, the American Embassy in Dubai, and many others.