The ‘Nic Fredman: A Retrospective’ will be on show at the Spin Street Gallery in Cape Town for one month only.
South African-born Nic Fredman is set to present two decades of oil paintings and mixed media pieces in a show entitled “Nic Fredman: A Retrospective”this November. Works on show include small panoramic landscapes produced over the last three years and earlier pieces dating back to 2003 when Nic returned to Cape Town after living in London for 28 years.
This multiple award-winning artist has exhibited widely in the UK, Amsterdam and South Africa. Notably, he was a South Bank Show prizewinner, and a recipient of the Ernest Cassel Prize, the Boise Travel Scholarship to New York, and the Granada Prize for Young Painters, among other accolades.
For this retrospective, Nic has mounted nearly two decades of work, revealing a more recent interest in landscape. The majority of paintings on show are comprised of small panoramic landscapes produced over the last three years, many of them through the national lockdowns. The other work on show dates from the time when Nic set up studio at The Old Breweries in Woodstock in 2003, on his return to Cape Town. The work on exhibition is divided into four themes: The Dark Rooms, Woodstock Anthills, Artefacts and Reconstructions, and Small Landscapes.
“The Dark Rooms comprises a body of work that I initiated when I was working in my London studio and drew inspiration from those artists inspired by the WunderKamer and Cabinet of Curiosities,” Nic said. “I would spend hours in the wonderful museums of London, the Victoria and Albert Museum, National History Museum, and especially, the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green, with its marvellous collection of Victorian dolls houses. These paintings are of imagined, invented rooms or dolls house rooms. They tend to have a darkness to them where shadow rather than light predominates.”
His next themed body of work titled Woodstock Anthills consists of paintings on prepared paper using images of Woodstock, with fragments of the landscape, textures and overlays. These paintings were started in Nic’s Woodstock studio and draw on the surrounding landscape and fragments current in his imagination at the time.
“I had a great studio, once used by Cecil Skotnes, in an annexe of the Old Breweries Complex. Working in the gothic Old Breweries building had its own inspiration, but I would garner images on my daily walks around the neighbourhood. I was particularly drawn to small details from facades, shop windows and street corners,” he explains.
Artefacts and Reconstructions is a series of paintings and constructions using found objects, paint, and collage. Nic is showing several mixed media works on paper as well as work constructed on wood using found objects. In 2011, he exhibited some of these constructions at the Design Indaba.
“Whereas those were three-dimensional, sculptural and some real cabinets, these paintings are largely collaged matrixes. Some resemble diagrams; others recall the printer’s tray grid, where disparate objects and images have been forced to coexist.”
The prime part of the retrospective is a collection of 40 intimate landscapes, humbly titled Small Landscapes. These small works are all oil paintings either on prepared paper or gesso board.
“The landscapes mark a return to a fundamental bearing within myself. Not just with the subject but also with traditional technique. Whereas the earlier work had been about invention and manipulation of colour, form and material, painting the landscapes was a direct response to the need to simplify the process. To get back to basics. I had seen a small Pieter Bruegel landscape in a museum and was knocked out how such a small painting could carry such a sense of largeness,” the artist states.
“Many of these were started when I had to spend months in London while my daughter was having treatment for her Lymphoma – small work was easier to carry back and forth and easier to make while sitting at the dining room table. I carried on the practice during the first Covid lockdown when my dining table became my studio. Drawing into a smaller space was also about yearning for the unbounded horizon. The smaller size encourages intimacy and making them is also about drawing inwards to reflect an infinite place and the idea of hope in a small artwork.”
Inviting just such introspection in its viewers, “Nic Fredman: A Retrospective” is on show at the Spin Street Gallery in Cape Town from 30 October to 30 November 2021. For more information, please visit nicfredman.com.
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