DIALOG: Landscape and Abstraction | Freya Grand and The Permanent Collection of AMA

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The OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas, Washington, D.C.

Published in conjunction with Dialog: Landscape & Abstraction Freya Grand & the Permanent Collection of the Art Museum of the Americas January 23 - April 26, 2020 The OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas, Washington, D.C. Copyright 2020 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. www.freyagrand.com ISBN: 978-0-578-62495-2 Chief Editor & Art Director: Hilary Pierce Hatfield Publication Designer: Johanna Biehler Copy Editor: Joel Fletcher Photographs of Freya Grand’s work: Greg Staley Photographs of Freya Grand, Queen Charlotte Islands: Arvin B. Weinstein Photographs from AMA Permanent Collection Courtesy of AMA Digital Image Services: Nancy Gilbert Printing: Schmitz Press front and back cover: Freya Grand, Pu’u O’ o (detail), 2016 Manabu Mabe, Gray (detail), circa 1962, Collection of the OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas, Gift of Yutaka Sanematsu


Foreword by Pablo Zuniga, AMA Director

11 The Exhibition 45 Essay by Hilary Pierce Hatfield, Curator 53 Selected Works by Freya Grand 65 Interview with Freya Grand by Adriana Ospina, AMA Curator 77 Artists and Contributors 83 Acknowledgements 84 Essay Bibliography




The Art Museum of the Americas (AMA) of the Organization of American States

(OAS) is proud to present DIALOG: Landscape and Abstraction | Freya Grand and

AMA’s Permanent Collection; a dialog between Grand’s works and gems from our collection, between AMA’s curator Adriana Ospina and guest curator Hilary Pierce Hatfield, and between landscape and abstraction. These visual conversations demonstrate what is possible when we, as representatives of a richly diverse hemisphere, focus on our similarities rather than our differences.

It is indeed an honor to stage the exhibition of Freya Grand’s brilliant, contemporary landscapes, developed from her travels through the remote regions of Ecuador, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica and Ecuador and its Galapagos

Islands. While it may at first glance be striking to experience the delight of how complementary Grand’s landscapes are alongside the abstraction of core OAS collection artists such as María Luisa Pacheco or Ángel Hurtado, it ultimately

comes as no surprise. These works resonate with a profound and shared dialog. Grand’s paintings were made in response to the very same regions of our hemi-

sphere that produced these fine abstractionists and together they shine light on the power, beauty and diversity of this common ground. In addition, as I recall

from my first visit to Freya’s studio, her paintings, while naturalistic, rely on abstraction in an essential way. The conversation between her pieces and those of the AMA’s artists is an evocative one. It is a conversation that is important in our

cross-cultural connection as we approach the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.


Founded in 1976, the AMA is home of the first art program of modern and

contemporary Latin American and Caribbean art in the United States, originating

in the early 20th century from the Visual Arts Program of the Pan American Union, now the Organization of American States.

Today, the Art Museum of the Americas is the organization’s key instrument of

cultural diplomacy, linking the values of the countries of the Americas. We aim to continue to grow our community to safeguard and treasure our permanent collection as a cultural legacy for future generations.

I congratulate Freya Grand for offering a deeper vision of essential places through her work. I thank our guest curator Hilary Pierce Hatfield for her expertise and

concept for this project, and her outstanding work alongside AMA’s dedicated

curator Adriana Ospina. I also thank everyone involved in making this exhibition possible, including but not limited to: OAS Secretary of Hemispheric Affairs

James Lambert and to the deeply committed staff of the AMA: Nuria Clusel-

la-Fábres, Fabián Goncalves Borrega, Leilani Campbell Hooker and Greg Svitil. This exhibition would not be possible without the support of the FAMA | Friends of the Art Museum of the Americas. Pablo ZÚñiga, Director

OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas

Gray (detail), Manabu Mabe, circa 1962, oil on canvas, 58 x 67" Collection of the OAS AMA| Art Museum of the Americas, Gift of Yutaka Sanematsu


“The shapes are everything that I felt about the primal power of those mountains, the feeling that the force of creation was still in the air.” - freya grand, artist’s journal 2005

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This exhibition pairs the immersive landscapes of Freya Grand with the abstract paintings of six Latin American painters whose works are in the permanent collection of the Art Museum of the Americas: Ángel Hurtado (Venezuela),

María Luisa Pacheco (Bolivia), Aníbal Villacís (Ecuador) and Danilo di Prete, Tomie Ohtake and Manabu Mabe (Brazil).

The works were selected through a conversation between AMA’s curator Adriana Ospina and guest curator Hilary Piece Hatfield. Hatfield was invited to explore AMA’s extensive digital archive and in doing so she noted strong connections between Freya Grand’s landscape paintings and certain abstract works in the permanent collection.

Ospina and Hatfield then visited Freya Grand’s Washington D.C. studio and

continued their dialog with the artist, conversing about pairing her work with

Hatfield’s selections from nearly a thousand works in AMA’s permanent collection. The curators found that this process led them to the selection of many of the

same pairings. Together they selected paintings that convey a common language through their forms, textures, compositions and impressions. The resulting

exhibition demonstrates that there is an essential dialog between landscape and abstraction, one that can be universal and shared.

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Paisagem Cosmica No. 2 (Cosmic Landsacpe No. 2), 1963, Danilo di Prete, mixed media on canvas, 58 x 58� Collection of OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas. Gift of Francisco Matarazzo Sobrinho

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Chimborazo (Ecuador), 2006, Freya Grand, oil on canvas, 48 x 60�, detail on page 8/9

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Signo En El Espacio, 1962, Ángel Hurtado, oil on canvas, 62 x 76” Collection of OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas

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Poas (Costa Rica), 2004, Freya Grand, oil on canvas, 48 x 60�, detail on page 16/17

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“I am compelled to stand on that piece of earth, to feel the elevation and the silence, to record the feelings of the experience and to make those feelings into paintings.� - freya grand, artist’s journal 2017

Tungurahua (Ecuador), 2011, Freya Grand, oil on canvas, 48 x 60�, detail on page 20/21

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Composition 1960, María Luisa Pacheco 1960, oil on canvas, 48 x 61”. Collection of OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas

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Shrouded Peak (Peru), 2003, Freya Grand, oil on canvas, 48 x 60�, detail on page 26/27

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“The primordial wind and the astonishment of what I see – all of this is what I will paint.” - freya grand, artist’s journal 2014, peru

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Precolumbino, 1973, Aníbal Villacís, mixed media on plywood, 41.33 x 47.75” Collection of OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas

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Pinnacle (Galapagos Islands), 2006, Freya Grand, oil on canvas, 48 x 60�, Private Collection, detail on page 30/31

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Gray, circa 1962, Manabu Mabe, oil on canvas, 58 x 67" Collection of the OAS AMA| Art Museum of the Americas, Gift of Yutaka Sanematsu

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Pu’u O’o (Hawaii), 2016, Freya Grand, oil on canvas, 48 x 60”, detail on page 34/35

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Untitled, 1994, Tomie Ohtake, engraving/etching 2/30, 31 x 21”, and Untitled, 1994, Tomie Ohtake, engraving/etching 4/30, 21 x 31” Collection of OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas

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Macal Rocks (Belize), 2013, Freya Grand, oil on canvas, 48 x 72�, detail on page 38/39

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Untitled, 1968 , Tomie Ohtake, oil on canvas, 54.5 x 44.62�. Collection of OAS AMA | Art Museum of the Americas

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Eruption (Ecuador), 2015, Freya Grand, oil on canvas, 48 x 48�, detail on page 42/43

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“A series of paintings is also a journey. There is a moving rhythm from piece to piece. In, out, rise and fall. The hovering aerial view and the vertiginous plunge.” — freya grand, artist’s journal 2019, ecuador

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“The realist thinks he knows ahead of time what reality is, and the abstract artist what art is….and the best abstract art communicates an overwhelming sense of reality.” - fairfield porter

Rock Ledge Deep Cove, 2003, Freya Grand, oil on mylar. Private Collection

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THE ESSENTIAL EYE by Hilary Pierce Hatfield, ’86 MICA

There are many ways to see things, but to truly see, one must be willing to delve

deeply and to ask as many questions as possible, until exactly the right questions are asked, but not with the objective of getting a definitive answer. Artists who

see with an essential eye seek to create visual evidence of how they have seen, not necessarily what they have seen.

This profound practice of seeing takes passion, intuition and commitment. It is

more than mere perception. Most of us function in the realm of perception, while

certain artists invest themselves entirely in the development of an essential eye.

The DIALOG: Landscape and Abstraction exhibition presents the results of this

way of seeing, as exemplified in the work of seven painters; six non-representa-

tional artists working in Central and South America in the mid-20th century, and the contemporary American painter Freya Grand.

It is important to note that there is a balance of male and female artists in the

exhibition, as well as artists with origins in the eastern and the western hemi-

spheres. Both Tomie Ohtake (1913-2015) and Manabu Mabe (1924-1997) left

Japan in the 1930’s during the Second Sino-Japanese War and began their

notable painting careers in Brazil. Mabe first hand-painted neck ties in São Paulo,

while Ohtake initially focused on figuration and traditional forms of landscape.

Both painters then began to move into abstraction by the mid-20th century;

synthesizing their minimalist, Eastern sensibilities with the earthy power of Latin

American aesthetics.

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The natural path from realism to abstraction, and

The artist with an essential eye drives at the origin

non-representational painters. Abstract Expres-

Modernist, Georgia O’Keeffe explored the terrain

sometimes back again, is familiar to many

and core of his or her subject. As American

sionist Jackson Pollock (1912-1956) apprenticed

of the Southwest, she was fixated on the sun

Hart Benton (1889-1975). Pollock’s bold, rhythmic

made their way back to dust. She describes the

with the American regionalist painter, Thomas

lines and innovative, sweeping skeins of paint in

Blue Poles, 1952, appear to be hung on the solid

underpinnings of the muralist landscape tech-

nique that he learned from Benton and Mexican muralist David Alfaro Siqueiros. In fact, Pollock

was deeply influenced by his keen observations

of the landscape in which he grew up and the seascape where he would find refuge when

bleached remains of desert creatures as they

exquisite beauty of the stripped-down forms, shapes and shadows found in animal bones.

“The bones seem to cut sharply to the center of something that is keenly alive… even tho’ it is

vast and empty and untouchable – and knows no kindness with all its beauty.”– georgia o’keeffe

creating his ground-breaking technique. Pollack, having left his landlocked home of Cody,

Wyoming, for the art mecca of New York City, recalls the impact of seeing the ocean for the

first time.

“The ocean is alive, full of tricks and moods. It can slap you, pat you and roll you. It’s where life

began… since I first saw it, that great source stays with me – nights, city, it follows me…that ground

swell is the universe breathing, over and over, short and long. On a good day, my work feels

like that – alive, strong, all me.” – jackson pollock Pelvis IV, Georgia O'Keeffe, 1944. Oil on Masonite, 36 1/16 x 40 3/8 inches. Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. Gift of The Burnett Foundation. © Private Collection. [1997.6.1]

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To O’Keeffe, the undulating planes and surfaces

just of the physicality of the land itself, but to

cosms of the desert, similar to the dioramas

for her. She recorded her experiences through

of her collection of bones appeared to be micro-

the emotions and sensations the landscapes held

she made as a child growing up in Wisconsin.

seeing, smelling, and touching the earth and then

trained her essential eye as a child, also creating

forms on canvas, to recall the elements she had

Artist Freya Grand, also a Wisconsin native,

returned to her studio to carefully carve out the

miniature “worlds” of her own design. Later as


the 1970’s, she would venture off to live on the

Painters of the 19th century also trekked miles

British Columbia. Every day was an act of creation

most breathtaking places on the earth and

a young activist and post-college art student in land in the remote Queen Charlotte Islands in

into jungles and up mountainsides to sketch the

for Grand, who lived for three years entirely off

create fantastic visual testimonies in their studios.

the sometimes harsh elements of nature. Grand

man of the Hudson River School, stirred intense

the grid, learning to survive in harmony with

describes this formative experience as direct and real.

“Nature was not an abstraction. It was not “out

there”. It shook us hard and breathed down our

necks.” – freya grand

At first, when working as a full-time painter and

Frederic Church (1826-1900), the master show-

emotion in over twelve thousand viewers who lined up to see his epic painting, The Heart of

the Andes (1859). Patrons of every class paid 25

cents, over $7.50 per person in today’s money, to

see the 9-foot-long painting as it was dramatically

unveiled in a darkened, gas-lit exhibition gallery at the 10th Street Studio in New York.

muralist, Grand’s subjects focused on stark

Church urged viewers to stand back and use

isolation. Then a trek to the heights of the Andes

his painting; a crashing waterfall, lush flora, exotic

interiors, evoking feelings of estrangement and

after the death of her father opened Grand up to an expansive and immersive point of view, not

opera glasses to examine the incredible details of birds and vast verdant terrain, all articulated in

great detail. American humorist Mark Twain recounts his impression of the painting.

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“You will never get tired of looking at the picture, but your reflections – your efforts to grasp an

By the 1930’s, artists in the Americas were

turning their gaze inward. In 1938 in Santa Fe,

intelligible Something – you hardly know what –

New Mexico, the Transcendental Painting Group

from the thing. In order to obtain relief. You may

scape, and instead channeled the feeling of

will grow so painful that you have to go away

find relief, but you cannot banish the picture – it remains with you still. It is in my mind now –

and the smallest feature could not be removed without my detecting it.” - mark twain

Women swooned when the curtains covering the painting were drawn back to reveal the jungle

landscape with the grandeur of the snow-capped

ignored the panorama of Southwestern landthe desert with their use of color, forms and

symbols, all derived from the land and Native

American archetypes. The work was spiritual,

primal, sensual and unmistakably evocative of the feeling of the Southwest. The central idea of the

manifesto for The Transcendental Group acknowl-

edges the “source” as essential to their work.

Andes in the distance. The painting was framed with a massive casement-window–like frame,

which kept the audience at a safe distance from the subject. The dazzling visual inventories of

Church’s paintings and those of his fellow Hudson River School artists were designed to impress. Even though this truly American movement in

ecological painting gave rise to National Parks

like Yellowstone, the collective experience of the

works did not instill enough empathy to promote

a widespread conservation effort. In fact, the

American desire to occupy, extinguish and exploit only increased well into the 21st century .

Watercolor No.11, Raymond Jonson, watercolor on paper, 1948. Courtesy of Addison Rowe Gallery, Santa Fe, NM

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“The Transcendental Painting Group is composed of artists who are concerned with the development and presentation of various types of

non-representational painting; painting that

finds its source in the creative imagination and does not depend on the objective approach.”

- transcendental painting group - statement of purpose, circa 1938

A similar approach to seeing, happening at the

emotions and ideas, from the “anxieties aroused by the barely known” to dark curiosities from his

experience of global conflict and the advent of the atomic bomb.

Now, at a time when anxieties are running high

over the global crisis of climate change, the work of Freya Grand offers us a critical opportunity.

Her body of work derived from her experiences within the earth’s most vast, fragile and in some

same time, was in the work of Bolivian artist María

cases rapidly changing places, speaks to our

material of her ancestral culture and the land-

through an essential eye; to feel how it is to be in

Luisa Pacheco (1919-1982), who referenced the scape of Bolivia in her use of forms and color,

and that of Aníbal Villacís (1927-2012), who drew from Pre-Columbian relief sculpture in his use

collective need to see the earth more holistically, such places, to be totally immersed and to share in that experience.

of symbols and his approach to composition.

Within the use of the fundamental language of

forms, color and composition, the essential eye

becomes more evident. This language, even

when derived from specific cultural references, is entirely universal. This is because emotions

and sensations and the human experience of them are also universal.

The Venezuelan artist and filmmaker Ángel

Hurtado (1927- ) describes his abstract paintings

as “inner landscapes” which depict a range of

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Cloud II (France), 2015, Freya Grand, oil on canvas, 48 x 60�

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Antrim Rocks (Ireland), 2019, Freya Grand, oil on canvas, 60 x 48�

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Swamp (United States of America), 2018, Freya Grand, oil on canvas, 48 x 60�

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Rainforest (Costa Rica), 2016, Freya Grand, oil on canvas, 60 x 48�

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Cerros (Argentina), 2015, Freya Grand, oil on canvas, 48 x 72�

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Thorsmork (Iceland), 2017, Freya Grand, oil on canvas, 48 x 60�

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Poisoned Glen (Ireland), 2018, Freya Grand, oil on canvas, 60 x 48�

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Glacier Opening (Iceland), 2018, Freya Grand, oil on canvas, 48 x 48�

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Glacier Edge (Iceland), 2018, Freya Grand, oil on canvas, 48 x 60�

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Cotopaxi Sketch (Ecuador), 2005, Freya Grand, Artist’s Journal

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INTERVIEW WITH FREYA GRAND Conducted by AMA | Art Museum of the Americas Curator of Collections, Adriana Ospina

ADRIANA OSPINA: Freya, I would like to begin

this interview by talking about the idea of

landscape. How do you relate to this concept,

both as an aesthetic and a physical experience? FREYA GRAND : The word “landscape” is really

shorthand to describe both the world outside of man’s built environment and the history of

depictions by artists who were trying to convey

an experience – the experience of what it felt like to be in nature and to feel a sense of wonder. I came to landscape from previous decades

of working in both abstraction and in a more

narrative style, but the underlying thread in my work throughout the years has always been

emotion, my own inner life. As to the physical

Chimborazo, 2005, Freya Grand, Studio Drawing

the center of the endeavor for me.

When I am working on a painting – for instance

Remote places are usually a challenge to reach,

sensations of the constant wind and the thin,

part of this process, that has always been at

requiring long hours of hiking and climbing.

I love that physical aspect of my work because it is part of the reward of seeing; the body

memory becomes inseparable from the visual experience.

the painting CHIMBORAZO – I vividly recall the cold air that left me gasping for breath. What I

am trying to say is that the whole experience is a kinesthetic one. The connection between the emotion and the bodily sensations are what I seek to convey in the completed paintings.

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thought had run its natural course. The ideas

and feelings that I had been working from had

been exhausted and were no longer authentic. The death of my father coincided with this period and the grief that I felt stopped my working

altogether for a while. In an effort to sooth my soul and to escape my own sad and anxious

rooms, I went on my first trip to Latin America, to the Galapagos Islands and then to Machu

Picchu. The overwhelming beauty of the Andes was unlike anything I had ever seen. It is hard

to describe how I felt – both very small, and yet greatly enlarged in spirit at the same time. Iceland Sketch, 2017, Freya Grand, Artist’s Journal

ADRIANA: When did you start to shift towards

landscapes? What was the trigger that allowed you to pursue the landscape in your work? Tell us about the transition from your narrative

ragged clouds, the inescapable sense of ongoing creation, and the open door of my own wounded spirit all came together. Something new was set in motion.

ADRIANA : Let’s talk about your travels

interiors to your landscapes.

through the Americas. What is it that you are

FREYA : I had found myself at a juncture in my

the hemisphere? How do you choose your

work in 2000, 2001. “Juncture” being a euphe-

mism for “dead end” – an extremely uncomfortable time in the work life of any artist. As you

looking for when exploring different sites of destinations?

FREYA : What I am always looking for are places

mentioned, my previous work was more narra-

untouched by the hand of man, places of wild-

shapes and altered, unpredictable perspectives

the qualities that attract me. I look toward the

tive, describing empty rooms whose undulating referred to the emotional events that had taken

place within them. But it seemed that my train of | 68 |

The terrifying beauty of those peaks with their

ness, beauty, starkness, immensity. These are

sea, the mountains, the forests, rocky outcroppings. Places where the beautiful and the

FREYA : To briefly describe this very formative

period of my life: almost immediately after

graduating from university my then-husband and I set out on a quest that landed us on the Queen Charlotte Islands in northern British Columbia. It

had been a time of deep political unrest in the US and we, like many other ardent protesters against the War in Vietnam, were seeking a new way of life. There was a strong feeling among many of

us that the only truly ethical and authentic thing to do was to not participate in mainstream US

society, but rather to live close to the land in the Freya Grand’s Cabin, 1970, Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia

ominous are both present. Places where I can

see the underlying bones of the earth and where I will be moved by what I see.

The Americas are such a rich trove of beauty with

manner of previous generations.

We ended up living in an old cedar-shake cabin with no electricity. We worked a large garden. We ate venison and salmon that we procured

Freya Grand, 1971, Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia

widely varying ecosystems. There are vast tracts of

land where humans rarely walk, formations that are far too rugged and forbidding to be built upon, manifestations of dramatic geological forces.

ADRIANA : I am intrigued by your experience in

the Queen Charlotte Islands in Canada. Could

you tell me more about that period of your life? How does this experience contribute to your landscape work?

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clockwise: Freya Bridling a Horse, 1971, Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia Cabin Kitchen, 1971, Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia Freya Drawing in Exchange for a Chain Saw, 1970, Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia Feeding the Chickens, 1971, Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia

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ourselves. We heated and cooked with wood,

of being there. It took me several trips to refine my

behind the house. We bathed in the river in the

impressions. At first I found myself overwhelmed

used kerosene lamps, drew water from a well

summer and in a galvanized tub in the winter. The work of each day was determined by

weather and season. Nature was not an abstraction. It was not “out there”. It shook us hard and breathed down our necks.

A fundamental result of my wilderness experience is a deep respect for work done with the

technique for preservation of these important first when I returned to my studio weeks later. There

was so much, so many competing impressions – like too many conversations going on at once.

Over time I learned that I could capture that vital imprint by using a combination of drawings and

words to mark a place. These “captures” are like a three dimensional diary.

hands. Making things as a way of life. A life on

I carry a backpack with my journal, drawing

you can and must depend on the skills of your

drawings, often sitting on a high vantage point.

the land engenders a different kind of outlook – own hands. How you make something matters.

I’m not saying that you have to live in the wilderness in order to know these things, but if you have lived that life of crucial physicality, it

changes you, even after you have moved back

to the city. You bring back with you a resilience

and a self-reliance that may not have been there before. My seeking of remote and wild places whose shapes inform my work is very much a part of that trajectory. My sense that wildness

is not at the edge of consciousness, it is at the very center.

ADRIANA : I’ve heard about your journals. What

is their role in your creative process?

FREYA : Exploring a new place produces a flood

of impressions – the full and rich sensory impact

materials, watercolors, a camera. I make small I may choose to record the shapes of a vast

sweep of terrain or a small tangle of foliage or

the outline of a rocky outcropping. I write words and phrases describing what it feels like to be

there, what this place seems to be about, words that are my personal keys to the experience. If

weather permits, I will do a quick pencil or watercolor scetch.

ADRIANA : Tell us more about your studio process.

How does a painting by Freya Grand come to be? FREYA : When I return to my studio with those

recorded impressions, I bring them together and

I begin drawing. For some artists, primary impressions come in the form of color and light. For

me the feelings reside in the weight and juxtaposition of shapes. Solid forms intersecting or

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Patagonia Sketch, 2014, Freya Grand, Artist’s Journal

pushing against each other, the tension held

The question that I have to ask myself repeatedly

water, these are where the eloquence of the

lies at the center of it?” As the work of the

in a negative space, the flow of shadows or moment resides.

The drawing becomes the road map for the

canvas, from there it becomes what painting is – the slow building of surfaces from the blocky

painting progresses, I often need to re-envision

my original impression, high up on that ridge or deep in that canyon.

ADRIANA : The environment is such an important

laying-in of the shapes, to the shifting of edges

topic these days. Let’s talk about how issues of

to the development of the complexity of the

type of questions you raise through your paintings.

to attain just the right movement and balance, final surface. | 72 |

is “what was this place about? What was it that

the environment are linked to your work and the

Patagonia Sketch, 2014, Freya Grand, Artist’s Journal

FREYA : Like many of us, I have watched this

us who have forgotten.

planet. And I have become more and more

By describing the sweep and power of the earth’s

climate change is a critical contributor to what we

will feel the meaning of these places. As I did at

growing flood of facts charting the injury to our convinced that while the scientific evidence on must comprehend, people are most willing to

pay attention and to change when their emotions have been engaged. Art can play a vital role in

phenomenal and fragile fabric, I hope that others that moment in the Andes.

ADRIANA : Let’s talk about your exhibition at

engaging emotion – it is what we artists do. We

the AMA | Art Museum of the Americas. Our

the phenomena of the natural world, invoking a

a long while, giving a more prominent space

can enrich the conversation with depictions of

deeper response and helping to remind those of

institution hasn’t shown landscape painting in to abstraction. For us this project is not only a | 73 |

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South Coast II (Iceland), 2018, Freya Grand, oil on panel, 6 x 6 x 2”

Surge (Ireland), 2012, Freya Grand, oil on panel, 8 x 8 x 2”

Crevice (Hawaii), 2017, Freya Grand, oil on panel, 6 x 6 x 2”

Cajas Woods (Ecuador), 2013, Freya Grand, oil on panel, 8 x 8 x 2”

reconciliation with landscape painting, but

ADRIANA : I am really excited about the

also an experiment to find a common language

juxtaposition of lyrical abstraction and land-

abstract Latin American artists. How do you

the exhibition.

between your work and the work of our

see the pairing process? How do you see your work within this new framework?

FREYA : When Hilary Hatfield first proposed

this exhibition to you and to Pablo Zuniga, I was amazed to see the resonance in the pairings

that she was suggesting. And then I was further amazed to see how you and Hilary seemed to

arrive at nearly identical choices right from the beginning. There was obviously a fine level of

visual understanding between the two of you as co-curators and with my work and the works in the Museum’s permanent collection.

I think this speaks to the soundness of the

exhibition concept of “Dialog”. It suggests that the idea was a natural one and that there is

indeed a deep connectedness between the

work of the Latin American abstractionists and my paintings of their landscapes.

My work treads the line between realism

and abstraction, so although my paintings have subject matter and a sense of place, they, like

abstract works, come from within and tap into the sense of life that resides within shapes. You and Hilary both saw that.

scape. Let’s talk about your favorite pairing in

FREYA : I think one of them is my painting titled

Chimborazo paired with Pasagen Cosmica no. 2 by Danilo di Prete. Both works have strong,

jagged, up-thrusting shapes that penetrate a kind

of milky fog, as well as similarly placed scatterings of small shapes. In my painting those shapes

happen to be boulders, but their similarity to di

Prete’s placement of abstract forms is remarkable. The two paintings have a similar light/dark balance, they carry a similar earthy power.

ADRIANA : The Art Museum of the Americas is

a part of the Organization of American States, an international entity that works for the

entire American hemisphere and the Caribbean. How do you see your work in this larger Inter-American discourse?

FREYA : We share a hemisphere. We are joint

inhabitants of this part of the earth. Artists in

every country are observing and working from what we see and feel and we convey these

feelings in visual form. The symbolic language used by artists is universally recognizable.

Seeing my work in the context of the work of

these other artists is a real thrill. It is like joining a chorus of voices.

| 75 |


Erongo Rocks (Namibia), 2014, Freya Grand, oil on canvas, 48 x 60”

| 77 |



Freya Grand is a native of Madison, Wisconsin and

Ángel Hurtado was born in Venezuela and enjoyed

received her Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree at the

a career as both a painter and filmmaker spending

University of Wisconsin in Madison. Her artistic training

his formative years as an artist in Paris. He began

was later supplemented by courses in Japanese

painting informally in 1941 in his native El Tocuyo and

woodblock printing at the prestigious Haystack

then, two years later, studied briefly with Octavio

Mountain School in Deer Isle, Maine, and by additional

Alvarado and José María Giménez while also experi-

advanced courses in painting (at the UW) and intaglio

menting with photography. In 1946 he enrolled at the

(in the private studio of Sandra Soll). Following

Escuela Nacional de Artes Plásticas. Hurtado left for

graduation she spent three years living on the remote

Europe in 1954 visiting Caracas, Spain, and then Paris.

Queen Charlotte Islands in Northern British Columbia,

While in Paris he worked as the cinematographer on

an experience that reinforced her deep connection

four films and in 1955 Hurtado exhibited his abstract

with the natural world.

paintings in the Salon des Realités Nouvelles and in 1956 at the Première Exposition Internationale de l’Art

In the years since 2001, Grand has traveled yearly to

Plastique Contemporain at the Musée des Beaux-Arts.

remote and untouched places in the world including the Andes in Ecuador, Chile, Argentina and Peru, the deserts

In 1957 his paintings were included in the Fourth

and mountains of Namibia, the glaciers of Iceland, the

Bienal de São Paulo and the 29th Venice Biennale.

swamps of Louisiana and Mississippi. These wild places

Hurtado returned to Venezuela and in 1959 had his

continue to inspire and inform her work.

first solo exhibition at the Visual Arts Section of the OAS, and in the following year he became the Director of the

Freya has exhibited her work in galleries and museums

film department of Televisora Nacional, a position he

in Chicago, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Santa

held until 1965. In 1970 he joined the audiovisual unit

Fe and Washington DC. In 2013, the National Museum

of the OAS Visual Arts Section and continued to paint

of Women in the Arts presented a solo exhibition

throughout his career at the OAS until his retirement in

Freya Grand: Minding the Landscape curated by the

1989, eventually moving away from abstraction in favor

museum’s Deputy Director Kathryn Wat.

of colorful landscapes with a distinctively mystical bent.

Grand’s work is in the collections of US Trust Corporation, the State of Wisconsin, the Government of the District of Columbia Art Bank with four Purchase Awards and numerous corporate and private collections in the United States, Canada and Europe. Her studio is in the Dupont Circle neighborhood of Washington, DC. | 78 |

MANABU MABE (1924 –1997)

TOMIE OHTAKE (1913– 2015)

Japanese-Brazilian artist Manabu Mabe emigrated from

Tomie Ohtake was born in Kyoto, Japan, in 1913. In

Japan in 1934 with his family. They settled on a São Paulo coffee plantation and eventually purchased land near Guaimbé. Mabe began painting informally in 1945, to his father’s displeasure, but in 1948 he met artist Yoshiya Takaoka, who encouraged the young artist. Mabe began exhibiting in 1950 first at Associação dos Artistas de São Paulo and then the Sãla Nacional de Belas Artes in Rio de Janeiro in 1951. The 1950s would be an auspicious decade for Mabe. He began his loose association with the Japanese-Brazilian artist organization Grupo Seibi and would show in his home country, participating in the International Exhibition in Tokyo in 1957 and 1959. In 1953 he was included in the Second Bienal de São Paulo and would show there repeatedly throughout the decade, winning the top prize in 1959, as well as the Braun Editions Award at the First Young Artists Biennial in Paris, which led Time Magazine to dub 1959 as “The Year of Manabu Mabe.” His first exhibition at the OAS was in 1961, followed by a Seibei exhibit at the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro in 1964. Mabe continued to paint and exhibit and was honored with a retrospective at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo in 1986.

1936, at the age of twenty-three, she traveled to Brazil to visit a brother who had already settled there. With the tensions that revolved around the start of World War II, she decided to remain in São Paulo. It was not until later in her life, in the 1950s, that Ohtake took up painting, after being exposed to the work in the studio of another Brazilian of Japanese descent, the painter Keisuke Sugano. Ohtake began with landscape and figurative subjects, but then became attracted to abstraction. She had her first exhibition in 1957 at the Sãlao Nacional de Arte Moderna, and in 1961 participated in the VI São Paulo Biennial. She was also part of the Venice and Tokyo biennials in the 1970s, and participated in more than twenty international biennials throughout her life. In the 1980s, Ohtake focused more on the public art and site-specific sculptures for which she is well-known in Brazil and Japan. These large-scale installations – located in cities such as São Paulo, Guarulhos, and Tokyo – gave life to her two-dimensional linear abstract paintings. Ohtake pursued public art commissions including mosaic murals for the Consolação Station of the São Paulo metro as well as a wave-shaped sculpture commemorating the 80th anniversary of Japanese immigration to Brazil (2008). Throughout her long life, Ohtake had more than 120 solo shows, 400 collective shows, and won twenty-eight important awards. In 2001 her son Ruy designed São Paulo’s Instituto Tomie Ohtake in her honor as a space to host local and international visual arts exhibitions.

| 79 |


DANILO DI PRETE (1911–1985)

Born in La Paz, Bolivia, to architect Julio Mariaca Pando

Born in Pisa, Danilo Di Prete began exhibiting in Italy in

and Teresa Dietrich Zalles, María Luisa Pacheco, née María

the early 1930s and, during World War II, he was part

Luisa Dietrich Zalles, began her artistic education in 1934

of the Artisti Italiani in Armi, a cultural exchange with

at the Acadamia de Bellas Artes, under Jorge de la Reza

Germany that sent him to Berlin and Düsseldorf.

and Cecilio Guzmán de Rojas. In 1948 she joined the

Following the war, he settled in São Paulo and between

newspaper La Razón for two years as an illustrator and

1946 and 1950 he worked principally as a designer and

then decided to take up painting in earnest, traveling to

enjoyed national acclaim for his posters, exhibiting in

Spain in 1951 on a fellowship from the Spanish Ministry

the Salão Nacional de Arte Moderna and the Salão

of Foreign Affairs. She attended classes at the Real

Paulista de Arte Moderna among other venues. Di

Academia de Bellas Artes de San Fernando in Madrid

Prete would become a major force in the Bienal de São

and studied privately with artist David Vásquez Díaz.

Paulo, winning the first prize in painting at the inaugural

Upon her return to Bolivia in 1953, Pacheco joined the

biennial in 1951. Awards at numerous biennials followed

faculty of the Academia de Bellas Artes and helped

and he was granted a special room at the Sixth in 1961,

found the group Ocho Contemporáneos. She began to

the Ninth in 1967, and the 10th in 1969. José Gómez

exhibit regularly thereafter, including at the III Bienal de

Sicre and Sir Herbert Read also took notice of di Prete’s

São Paulo in 1955.

latest work and included him in the 1962 exhibition New Directions of Art from South America: Paintings

In 1956 she relocated to New York City and began

from Argentina, Chile, Brazil, and Uruguay, drawn from the

exhibiting at Galería Sudamericana. The following year

first Bienal Americana de Arte in Córdoba, Argentina.

José Gómez Sicre invited her to exhibit at the Visual Arts Section of the OAS. Her work at the time demonstrated the strong influence of Cuban Wifredo Lam but, living in New York City in the heyday of abstract expressionism, she gradually moved away from representational imagery. After a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1958 and a brief return to Bolivia in 1961, Pacheco looked to the “gigantic landscape and the ancient art of Bolivia.” She remained in the United States for the rest of her career, showing at the Lee Ault and Company Gallery from 1971 until its close in 1980.

| 80 |

ANÍBAL VILLACÍS (1927– 2012)


Aníbal Villacís was born in Ambato, Ecuador. By 1949 he

Adriana Ospina is a co-curator of the exhibition DIALOG:

began exhibiting his early figural works in his hometown

Landscape and Abstraction | Freya Grand and AMA’s

and soon achieved recognition as an artist. In 1953 he

Permanent Collection. Over her ten year-career at AMA,

received a grant from the Ecuadoran government to

she has held various positions including Educational

study in Europe where, after a year in Paris, he enrolled

Program Manager, and since 2014 Curator of its Perma-

at the Academía de San Fernando in Madrid, remaining

nent Collection. She has curated a number of exhibitions,

there for the next six years. In 1954 he held an individual

among them Fusion: Tracing Asian Migration to the

exhibition at the Circulo de Bellas Artes in Madrid. Villacís

Americas; Femininity Beyond Archetypes: Photography by

was first exposed to abstraction in Spain, where he came

Natalia Arias; A Gaze through the CINTAS Fellowship

into contact with artists working in an informalist mode

Program: A Selection of Works from the CINTAS Founda-

such as Antoni Tàpies, Antonio Sauro, and Modest Cuixart.

tion among others. She is the curator of the upcoming

He began incorporating aspects of their approach into

exhibition Cultural Encounters: Art of Asian Diasporas in

his work and subsequently embraced abstraction as his

Latin America & The Caribbean 1945-Present which will

primary means of expression. Upon his return to Ecuador,

travel nationally. She is the co-curator of the exhibition

Villacís, together with several other artists, founded the

Visual Memory: Home + Place at AMA | Art Museum of the

artists’ collective VAN (Vanguardia Artística Nacional), a

Americas. Ospina edited the book Collection of the Art

group that opposed the predominance of indigenism in

Museum of the Americas of the Organization of American

Ecuadoran painting and advocated for a new approach

States (OAS, 2017). She holds an MA in Art History from

to art-making that was simultaneously universal and

George Mason University.

rooted in the region’s pre-Columbian culture. In 1962 José Gómez Sicre invited him to hold a oneperson show at the Pan American Union. He was the first Ecuadoran artist working in an abstract mode to exhibit there. In 1965 he won the Mariano Aquilera prize for his abstract composition Incaico. By the mid-1970s, however, he had returned to painting in a figurative mode. Villacís exhibited throughout Latin America (Ecuador, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Dominican Republic, Brazil, El Salvador), the United States, and Europe. In 2007 Villacís received the prestigious Premio Eugenio Espejo, presented by the president of Ecuador.

| 81 |



Hilary Pierce Hatfield is a co-curator of the exhibition

Johanna Biehler is the graphic designer at the Walters

DIALOG: Landscape and Abstraction | Freya Grand and

Art Museum in Baltimore. She has been working at the

AMA’s Permanent Collection. She is a fine art professional

Walters for over 20 years with a wide range of tasks,

with over 25 years of experience in the visual arts, in both

from invitations, posters, and marketing campaigns, to

the non-profit and private sectors. She is a graduate of

exhibition graphics, info graphics, and wayfinding. Her

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) 86’, first working

work has won numerous awards in the annual design

for the Contemporary Museum in Baltimore, planning

competition of the Association of American Museums.

exhibitions and producing a film on artist Alison Sarr for

For many years she has taught workshops at the

the museum. She has served as an Adjunct Professor and

Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) and she

as an advisor for the Curatorial Studies program at MICA.

continues to be a regular guest critic there.

She has also served on the grants committee for Maryland State Arts Council. Over her career, Ms. Hatfield has worked with numerous museums in facilitating exhibitions, loans, gifts and acquisitions including the Musee de Vernon, France; The Kyoto Museum, Japan; The Hunter Museum, Chattanooga, Tennessee; The New York Historical Society and The African American Museum in Philadelphia. She is an advisor for private and family foundation collections, and acted as a founding curator for the Petrucci Family Foundation Collection of African American Art, which was exhibited at the African American Museum in Philadelphia and Portland Art Museum. Over the past 10 years, Mrs. Hatfield has focused her curatorial practice on the work of marginalized artists, women and artists of color. She has studied the history of American landscape painting with a focus on the Hudson River School and is Chief Advisor to The Albert Babb Insley Legacy Project. Ms. Hatfield is the Founder and President of Art Collector’s Athenaeum.

| 82 |

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Freya Grand wishes to thank the following individuals for their support of the exhibition and this catalog: Marie Elena Amatangelo Susan Bass Michael Beidler Paul H Ellis Alina Gorokhovsky Hilary Pierce Hatfield George Hemphill Adriana Ospina Claudia Pinto Claudia Rousseau Greg Staley Greg Svitil Kathryn Wat Pablo Zuniga

| 83 67 |

BIBLIOGRAPHY, ESSAY, page 45 Avery, Kevin J. (Winter 1986). “The Heart of the Andes Exhibited: Frederic E. Church’s Window on the Equatorial World”. American Art Journal. Kennedy Galleries, Inc. Benke, Britta, and Karen Williams. Georgia O’Keeffe, 1887-1986: Flowers in the Desert. Taschen, 2005. Byers, Bruce. “The Art of Ecology: The Pilgrimage to the Heart of the Andes.” Bruce Byers Consulting, Feb. 2015, www.brucebyersconsulting.com/the-art-of-ecology-a-pilgrimage-to-the-heart-ofthe-andes/. Cernuschi, Claude. Jackson Pollock: Meaning and Significance. Icon Ed. HarperCollins, 1993. “Heart of the Andes, 1859.” Metmuseum.org, www.metmuseum.org/en/art/collection/ search/10481. Morais, Frederico. “Tomie Ohtake’s Building of Forms.” Instituto Tomie Ohtake, www.institutotomieohtake.org.br/en/tomie_ohtake/interna/o-edificio-de-formas-tomie-ohtake. Ospina, Adriana, “Art of the Americas: Collection of the Art Museum of the Americas of the Organization of American States”. OAS| AMA and Friends of the Art Museum of the Americas, 2017. Ottmann, Klaus, and Fairfield Porter. Fairfield Porter Raw: the Creative Process of an American Master. Giles, 2010. Rocco, Renata. “Danilo Di Prete: Between Syndical Exhibitions in Italy and São Paulo Biennial of Art.” Transregional Academies, Forum Transregionale Studien and the Max Weber Foundation and Sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), 8 June 2016, academies. hypotheses.org/1482. Spring, Justin. Fairfield Porter: A Life in Art. Yale University Press, 2000. “Transcendental Painting Group Statement of Purpose, 1938?, Agnes Pelton Papers, 1885-1989.” Agnes Pelton Papers, 1885-1989 | Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution, www.aaa.si. edu/collections/items/detail/transcendental-painting-group-statement-purpose-17590. The author would like to thank Mark Hatfield for his scholarship and support in the research for this essay. | 84 |



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