New York

Kathryn Freeman

Tatistcheff and Company

In this show of recent paintings, Kathryn Freeman reveals how it is still possible to capture the awe-inspiring sides of human experience in one’s art without falling into the pit of self-consciousness that is the bane of so many of the figurative artists working with symbolic intents. Freeman demonstrates a visionary power and passionate poetic drive in her work; she finds meaning in even the most ordinary occurrences. Inspired by her observations of everyday events, Freeman seamlessly brings together commonplace and fantastic elements. Her pictures engender astonishment; they come across as utterly convincing and mesmerizing.

A number of the large multifigure compositions are remarkable scenes celebrating the manifold joys of being alive. Focusing on the harmony that can exist between people and nature, Freeman creates scenarios that offer a variety of fresh vantage points on the subject. In A Place in the Woods and Of Swans and Angels, both 1987, the world is presented as a park, a genteel staging ground for the discovery of life’s pleasures. The solidity of the figures endows their gestures and expressions with a monumental quality; Freeman’s handling of perspectival construction helps to complete the illusion of a moment in time stretched into an eternity. Though they wear contemporary articles of clothing, the figures—such as the children looking at the butterflies they are trying to catch in the former painting, or the children staring at a fish flying out of a hat in the latter—stand as universal metaphors of innocence. The paintings’ details are supercharged with the element of surprise, and they thwart any pictorial expectations.

Freeman plants as many conceptual bombshells in her small paintings as in her large ones. In Spring Fever, 1988, the spirit of this regenerative season is expressed in the delightful image of a young woman leaping joyfully out of a window, while two comfy armchairs sit as impassive witnesses to her euphoric flight. Like this woman, Freeman’s powers of invention seem to have very few bounds.

Ronny Cohen