Joshua Liner Gallery is pleased to present Watermelons, the gallery’s first full gallery show for gallery artist, Sam Friedman. Continuing to explore the space between abstraction and recognition, Friedman will present over 35 new paintings, each connecting through shared palettes and his own developed visual alphabet. While resembling our own world, each of the works will be uniquely abstract. The opening reception for Sam Friedman will take place on Thursday, June 1, with the exhibition running through July 1, 2017.
Shaped by the world Friedman inhabits, these abstractions gain their inspiration from recognizable scenes. By working with a set of visual tools, Friedman creates a visual alphabet by which he reworks, and develops which each piece. As if working out the answer visual puzzle, each piece works within his own parameters, but explores seemingly endless combinations and “solutions.”
Each piece begins with a loose idea of color and direction, but created by painting layers, atop of layers, all executed by freehand, with each new layer of acrylic, responding the one painted previously. Each work unfolds as the artist moves further towards completing each piece. Friedman explains his process:
They are executed as freehand brush paintings. There is no masking, projecting, or sketching. Paint is applied to canvases freely with a brush, and the paintings develop and grow in an organic manner, with each decision responding to the sequence of decisions that have already been made and executed on the surface.
The end result of his process is pristine and clean, geometric lines. As each piece works through its composition, each line is created once, without the benefit of editing. It is an automated response from head to hand. While the clarity of his line resembles something mechanic, Friedman reminds us of the process behind the work, by exposing and keeping any imperfections that may float to the surface. Using a flat paint creates a velvety as well as a delicate surface, that at times, exposes the difference between colors and brushwork. When these imperfections emerge, while rare, Friedman considers them an integral part of his practice. His work exists in the space between mechanic and the organic. Despite attempted austerity, the automated constructions come from a very personal space, to create beautiful and personal compositions.
Born 1984 in Oneonta, New York, Sam Friedman received his BFA in Commercial Art and Illustration from Pratt Institute in 2006. As a studio assistant to artist KAWS for many years, Friedman notes this as an important contribution to his development as a contemporary artist. Exhibitions include solo shows at Library Street Collective, Detroit, MI (2017, 2014), BEACH at Space 1026, Philadelphia, PA (2013), and Territories Unexplored at Nuartlink Gallery, Norwalk, CT (2012), and a two-person show with Josh Sperling, at Joshua Liner Gallery in 2016. Selected group exhibitions include Summer Mixer at Joshua Liner Gallery, New York, NY (2014), Exhibit Z at Library Street Collective, Detroit, MI (2014), and July Group Show at Guerrero Gallery, San Francisco, CA (2013).
Sam Friedman – Artist Bio
Until recently, and for the last decade, American artist Sam Friedman had been living and working in Brooklyn, NY. Tending to reflect the natural world, his work is simultaneously loose and precise. Friedman moves between representational and abstract depictions with seeming ease and spontaneity. His earliest beach paintings—completed in 2008—originated from his experience of walking towards the sunset during an oncoming storm. This personal encounter of induced visual clarity prompted in the artist’s mind the precise image for a fully formed painting that incorporated the language he had been developing in his earlier abstract work. This focus has occupied most of his explorations since then, resulting in a body of work that continuously breaks down and rebuilds the natural landscape.
In her essay for Territories Unexplored (2012), Monica Ramirez-Montagut explains:
For Friedman, abstract art captures motion and emotion more than capturing the image of a thing. The intensity and direction of one swooping line in his work, he explains, may bring to mind the arm-stroke of a swimmer or the idea of something flying: “Everyone is going to have a connotation for a particular visual thing because, as humans, we are going to look for those connections…we always look for connections…that is why I start all my paintings again and again.”
Born in 1984 in Oneonta, New York, Friedman spent his childhood bypassing the real world and resorting to daydreaming and drawing. At eighteen, upon graduating from high school, he moved to Brooklyn to study commercial art at Pratt Art Institute. Following four years of illustration and typography studies, he earned his livelihood by realizing commercial artwork for companies and publications such as Nike and The New York Times. Nevertheless, during that period, his personal practice focused on painting. Eventually, he decided to move on from commercial affairs and engage in activities with other artists, which would ultimately contribute to his practice. Taking advantage of his applied art beginnings, Friedman embraces techniques, traditions, tools, and materials of commercial art trades. While negotiating their incorporation into his work, Friedman uses these skills as an initial basis to freely compose visually striking works. He finds inspiration in other great artists with similar approach such as De Kooning, Leger, Lichtenstein, Lewitt, and Westermann.
Joshua Liner Gallery
540 West 28th Street
New York, NY 10001