This weekend, Tripoli Gallery in Southampton is presenting New Paintings, an exhibition of recent work by Sagaponack painter Eric Freeman. The artist’s luminous color field paintings have already been featured in a number of group shows at Tripoli, but this marks Freeman’s first solo show, where viewers can experience the full breadth of his expression, in the gallery.
Freeman’s paintings are ephemeral. While we understand that these works are fastened to the canvas, that the paint is permanent once dried, there is an ever-evolving quality to their surface—one seems to not only respond emotionally, but the paintings themselves react optically to the colors and light around them. Stripped of narrative and void of external references, what remains is pure and intense color.
In a time when artists are constantly exploring new mediums and trying to break away from what has already been done, Freeman finds his mode of expression by pushing through the traditional medium of oil on canvas. He has continued to energize his own practice and the fundamentals of being a painter by experimenting with the combination of elements in the build up of oil paint. Fascinated with the qualities that make up a color, he has recently started exploring with iridescent pigments, raising the depth of each color at hand and adding just the right amounts of various oils, before applying the new blend to the canvas in confident and graceful brushstrokes.
Freeman applies layer upon layer, thinning them out intermittently—a process through which he creates different surfaces for light refraction to occur at various speeds, allowing the light to actually bounce between each layer resulting in a backlit quality.
Painter David Salle attributes an “illusive immateriality” to Freeman’s work, noting, “Where does the energy in these pictures come from? What does Freeman want us to feel? A sense of giving over to it; the thrill of the roller coaster gives way to something more internal. Accept the sheer physical/optical fact, these paintings seem to say, because that’s what painting is.”
Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1970, Eric Freeman earned his BFA from Tufts University in 1993. He has shown at the Wetterling Gallery in Stockholm, Galerie Forsblom, Helsinki, Alain Noirhomme, Brussels, Mary Boone Gallery, Stephen Stux Gallery and Feature Gallery in NYC, The Fireplace Project and Glenn Horowitz in East Hampton, The Western Project in Culver City and the Saatchi Gallery in London. His work is included in the collections of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation and the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, Finland, Saatchi Gallery in London and the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill. Freeman currently lives and works in Sagaponack.
There will be an opening reception for New Paintings on Saturday, September 14 from 6–8 p.m. The exhibition run through Monday, October 14.
Tripoli Gallery is located at 30A Jobs Lane in Southampton. Call 631-377-3715 or visit tripoligallery.com.