Elliot Fredericksen, The Orb

Elliot is not only one of the most talented, intuitive artists I know, he is also one of my oldest friends. I am so looking forward to his reception Saturday night down at Zza’s. Zza’s casual atmosphere is a perfectly comfortable environment for Elliot’s first show. I’m sure it will be a wonderful August night, warm smiles augmented by a few glasses of wine from one of the best collections in the Bay Area.

I remember when Elliot and I were both thirteen years old, just learning to paint and draw and Elliot would blow me away with his confident sense and his curvelinear graphic style.

Fast forward to the present day and I am so pleased to present the debut show of his work in the Bay Area. Trained as a gardener and a bike mechanic, Elliot’s outsider work is hugely refreshing to our local scene. The simple imagery in the work itself draws on wordly traditions, evoking disparate cultures and uniting them with a quality that appears remarkably free of influences and yet completely intellectual, based in philosophy.

He and I had a talk yesterday about the new paintings he has prepared for his show on Saturday night.

Obi: There are images, or not images, but shapes in your work that may be interpreted as sexual, right? what do you say to that.

Elliot: Well okay, take for instance the mushroom cloud shape. It contains a form that is at the same time, what we might traditionally think about as both masculine and feminine. There is the upward thrusting movement coming from a single point to what is, especially when seen from below, the enveloping, female shape of convection. So that is where it is at, this Ur-sexuality… The dividing point… It’s binary: the dividing point between zero and one. It’s cellular mitosis.  It is sexual on that level. It comes from, partly, your input, Obi, and the work we’ve done together but also for my own practice purposes. I have been trying to explore all of this.

Obi: Practice. That is an interesting idea. Do you think of your painting as a meditative practice in and of itself?

Elliot: This series was prompted by a meeting with my fiance, Catherine (Meng)’s mentor in New Mexico, Shelley Horton-Trippe. Simply based on the information that I was a painter and I hadn’t been painting, she gave me an assignment: you should work on small things in a series. She said pick a number.

Obi: What was the number?

Elliot: I think I said four. That turn into quadratic multiples.

Obi: Four turned into sixteen.

Elliot: So practice in the straight forward sense of being given an assignment and to paint again after not having painted for twelve to fourteen years. Then, bouncing off one or two of these images that were complete at the time. The blue orb is the oldest… painted that in 97. Specifically that one: that is the seed.

Obi: So what is the Orb?

Elliot: Well the orb is oddly a personal reference to the fact that I was listening to the Orb the last time I painted in my early twenties.

Obi: I appreciate the non-obvious answer.

Elliot: I was introduced to the Orb around that time by the very-excellent painter Clay Witt, who I knew in Arizona but now teaches in Virginia. He said that to me one day, he said you know, the really unifying thing I see in your work is the Orb. About two weeks before that he started playing me the Orb, I had never heard them before. So, anyway, full moons, the cyclical energy, this kind of thing.

Obi: Do you name your shapes ever? They seem like they have an almost mathematical life all to themselves?

Elliot: No. I resist classifications although I can’t deny the taxonomy. I work from a sense of starting over. I stick to the simple practice of the binary as it relates to the practice of the curve, if you will.

Oh I will Elliot, I will. No, you can’t find him on facebook.

The Paintings of Elliot Fredericksen
Zza’s Wine Bar Gallery
550 Grand Ave.
Oakland, California

Show reception: Saturday Augst 13th, 2011. 6pm-9pm
Show runs through September 17th

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