2014 Dying on Stage (Konstnärshuset, Stockholm)

Dying on Stage: New Paintings by Elisabeth Frieberg, Konstnärshuset, Stockholm 2014


Duo exhibition with Ebba Bohlin's Transgressions

Stora Galleriet, Konstnärshuset



Photo Carl Henrik Tillberg

Brooklyn, New York

July, 2014

In 2013, I curated an exhibition at New York City’s Garis & Hahn gallery called Dying on Stage: New Painting in New York. The title, which Elisabeth Frieberg is appropriating for this solo exhibition, comes from a quote by the legendary American actor Bill Murray, who these days is better known for showing up at strangers’ parties and surprising the guests than making movies. In 2013, he told Esquire magazine that in order to be a comedian, “You’ve got to be completely unafraid to die,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to take a chance to die. And you have  to die lots.”

To be an artist, one must also take risks, living with the constant possibility of failure. One must not be limited by ideology or fear. All paths are open, though some will inevitably lead to dead ends. In this precarious world, staying still is the only true mistake.

Elisabeth Frieberg’s work demonstrates a similar acceptance of the freedom of risk. Her paintings arrive fresh with the energy of the artist’s impressions of the world around her. Their colors are beaming, their sensual payload immediate. As with the painters I curated, Frieberg moves freely between formats and visual idioms, from the severe vertical stripes of several of her Taos, New Mexico, works inspired by the arch-minimalist Agnes Martin to the all-over exuberance of other canvases covered in swirls of pastel-colored paint inspired by the hues of the Southwestern American landscape. The artist is inspired by Martin’s practices, but does not feel limited to their strictures, instead moving ever forward.

The jotted lines Frieberg sent me from her notebook kept in Taos ring of poetry: “Vulture light warm burnt umber / Vulture darkest brown / Low bush dry light. Cold beige. / Low bush, light warm.” So too do the paintings have an improvisational, poetic mood. They adopt and discard formalist languages as the their relevance to the visual poem ebbs and flows, building new, contingent forms. When Frieberg leaves triangles of raw, blank space on the sides of some of her canvases, they are spaces of possibility rather than negation.

Speaking of death—painting itself is constantly said to be dead or dying. Yet this framework of discussion, stemming from modernist teleology, is irrelevant. The Greenbergian ideology of Abstract Expressionism is irrelevant. Postmodern strategies of appropriation and

critical irony increasingly ring false as well. What is left is the ongoing risk of attempting all strategies in a chaotic world.

In this exhibition, Frieberg investigates the possibilities of the canvas as a form, turning paintings against the wall and allowing their colors

to shine from behind the stretcher bars. Another work is hinged against the wall, metaphorically allowing it to move any way the wind might blow. Frieberg inhabits the space of freedom given by the attitude of always being ready to fail, to die, to move on to the next attempt, remaining ever alert and ever curious.

When Frieberg asked if she could adopt my earlier exhibition title for her show, I was happy to be hijacked. The appropriation fits in with

that sense of energetic play that I see as driving the most compelling contemporary art. Though I identified this spirit of risk in my show,

it belongs to everyone; it can and should be spread around the world through exhibitions like this one.

I encourage you to approach Frieberg’s work with a fitting sense of openness. You are Bill Murray, arriving at an unknown house party, ready to experience whatever the moment brings.

Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka is currently writer for publications including Newsweek, The New Republic, and Pacific Standard, and others. He is also curator for exhibitions and projects at Moving Image art fair and Garis and Hahn gallery.  Kyle Chayka is Senior Editor at Brooklyn-based art blog Hyperallergic.com and also writes for NewYorker.com.

Dying on Stage: New Paintings by Elisabeth Frieberg, Konstnärshuset, Stockholm 2014

Dying on Stage: New Paintings by Elisabeth Frieberg, Konstnärshuset, Stockholm 2014



Published 24 September 2014 konsten.net

Svenska http://konsten.net/bohlin-och-frieberg-pa-konstnarshuset/


Translated from Swedish to English:





Elisabeth Frieberg and Ebba Bohlin share the Stora Galleriet at Konstnärshuset in Stockholm. Why are they doing this, are they collaborating, what are their point of interest and what do they give each other? None of these questions are given any straight answers in the gallery space, or even with the help of the available text material. Quite soon however, you get the feeling of that there actually are connections between the artists. Information given outside the gallery space tells that they have on several occasions exhibited together and that they have both been awarded with the Bærtling grant. Additionally they both have a considerably investigative and obvious conceptual approach to their artistic practises. When you are not being confronted instead being led to search for the connections yourself, new interpretations and more poetic general picture might occur to the visitor. …

Frieberg’s part of the exhibition is called Dying on Stage. At first glance it seems to questioning painting as an expression. One could experience it as Frieberg is totally indifferent to previous colleague’s twisting and turning of what painting can be. This attitude is refreshing and perhaps completely necessary. Frieberg uses painting as props and creates interesting angles, passages and meetings with this particular artistic expression, which is commonly to be viewed flat on the wall.


Frieberg’s way of investigating painting can be experienced on several ways rather than evaluate its status as being called dead. That is,

for example as an installation with the site specific as point of departure, we recover doubt without a relevant gender discussion and we get a sensuous experience from technical matters of painting. In addition to these facts we can also look at it as an exhibition with aesthetically very attractive paintings. It may sound like the message in the title Dying on Stage is hard to catch, but it most likely is about how an artist, like an actor must be prepared to put in everything in ones piece of work, and also, if necessary be prepared to die on stage. This courage you can find in both artists in Stora galleriet. Bohlin and Frieberg had for sure been able to fill up this large space separately. It is therefore interesting that both exhibitions are continuing outside the gallery space on other geographical locations. Parts of both artist’s exhibitions and practices is on going or has been, in New York, Simris and around Scandinavia. As a visitor you are enriched by how two fairly different kinds of artists are tied up together in this way, even if one can have difficulties getting an overview of these, if you pop in for a visit during lunch break. But it has not to be perceived this way, with an open mind one can visit and later on leave Smålandsgatan 7 with a both sensuous and intellectual experience. …


Jakob Anckarsvärd

Untitled (God is Happy No 2) 152x152 cm oil on canvas 2014

Untitled (Beam, East, Heaven, Gold, Hell, Eternity, Mountain) 114x152 cm oil on canvas 2014

Untitled (Muff, Van Gogh, Taos, No 2) 31x38 cm oil on canvas 2014

Turn off the Lights. I want to Cry. 320x186 cm oil on canvas 2011

Untitled (Dense, Taos) 38x31 cm oil on canvas 2014

Untitled (Electric Martin. Love) 152x152 cm acrylic on canvas 2014

Untitled (Panties with God's Light and Heaven) 30x21 cm oil on canvas 2014

Untitled (Beyoncé, Folding Screen) 83x40 cm oil on canvas 2014

Untitled (God's Light, Heaven, Folding Screen) 83x40 cm oil on canvas 2014

One Minute Canvas

Sound in headphones, 1 min loop, 2013

Sound from the artist hammering on stretcher bars on a newly stretched canvas sized 6x6 ft (183x183 cm)

Untitled (God's Light, Hell, Eternity, Black, White) 38x31 cm oil on canvas 2014