new-york

Viola Frey

Nancy Hoffman Gallery

Subtle shifts in an artist’s oeuvre can be as easily missed as the movements of the hour hand across a clock’s surface; this is particularly the case with Viola Frey’s large-scale ceramic figures, which have evolved at a slow but steady pace since the late ’70s. Approximately one-and-a-half times bigger than the average viewer, Frey’s clunky effigies of middle-class Moms and Dads have an eerie presence: These towering zombies—hybrids of ceramic experimentation that combine Bay Area figuration, expressionistic brushwork, and a fauve palette—continue to evade esthetic categorization. Yet for all their idiosyncrasy, they have changed little in over a decade.

A departure for Frey, this new work is dominated by weighty, nude earth mothers. In Two Women and a World, 1990-91, in which a pair of monumental female nudes contemplates a brightly glazed ceramic globe, Frey offers a pleasant respite

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