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DA M O N F R E E D OBSTACLE AND VOID

bruno david gallery


DAMON FREED OBSTACLE AND VOID

February 27 - March 21, 2015 Bruno David Gallery 3721 Washington Boulevard Saint Louis, Missouri 63108, U.S.A. info@brunodavidgallery.com www.brunodavidgallery.com Owner/Director: Bruno L. David This catalogue was published in conjunction with the exhibition “Damon Freed: Obstacle and Void” at Bruno David Gallery. Editor: Bruno L. David Catalogue Designer: Eileen Milford and Laine Johnson Designer Assistant: Claudia R. David Printed in USA All works courtesy of Damon Freed and Bruno David Gallery Photographs by Bruno David Gallery Cover image: Obstacle and Void series, 2014

First Edition Copyright © 2015 Bruno David Gallery All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written permission of Bruno David Gallery


CONTENTS

SELFLESS: THE WORK OF DAMON FREED BY TANYA HARTMAN Afterword BY BRUNO L. DAVID CHECKLIST AND IMAGES OF THE EXHIBITION BIOGRAPHY

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SELFLESS: THE WORK OF DAMON FREED by Tanya Hartman

The artist and poet, Damon Freed writes in his poem “Selfless,“ the cynical mind is not mine to have, nor ours to dwell in. A life of joy can be had.” From his vantage point as a creator, he advises his readers that the land of skepticism is barren, devoid of the immediacy and profundity of emotion that makes life resonate. Thus, the artist courageously reveals pain and elation, buoyancy and weight, acuity and confusion in a disarmingly openhearted manner. Walking into his exhibition “Obstacle and Void” is like walking into the artist’s inner life coded in symbolism, form, color, mark and space. All works on display were painted in acrylic and flashe on paper and have the ease and vibrancy of touch that these simple materials allow. The artist is interested in clarity and wants unmitigated interchange between his emotions and their translation into paint. To achieve this, he has invented a language unique to himself, composed of an off kilter geometry of grids, shapes, squiggles, dashes and clots suspended within a matrix of diaphanous pigment. The results are works that reveal themselves slowly, reading initially as visually appealing abstractions that speak the language of formalism and then morphing into strange dreamscapes that defy definition. The work is wholly original, compelling and contradictory and puts me in mind of the words of psychologist D.W Winnicott who writes, “it is a joy to be hidden but a disaster not to be found.” The work aches to be understood, undressed, taken in. For instance, in a work from 2015 titled “Her and Him”, a hastily painted field of grey pigment is brushy and rushed, each loose skein of paint like blurted words in an urgent conversation. This fast field is bifurcated by a black line that separates one shape from the other. Clearly a stand-in for figures, one awkward form is a bulging, empty black puzzle piece, the other pink and concave in places where the first is convex. Yet, the forms would never easily fit together, and are separated by a line to exacerbate their alienation from each other. Splattered at the image’s lower right is white paint, evocative of body effluvia. The piece initially reads as an organic abstraction with geometric elements, playful and loose, but reveals itself slowly to be visual memoir that discusses separation from a lover, worry over the capacity to connect, and grief.

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In the works “Relocation Portal 1” and “Relocation Portal 2” bright, funhouse colors obfuscate a darker expression of self. At the center of each composition is a form, square or circular, filled with sections, each containing circles within circles. The imagery evokes circuitry, clocks, or mitochondria and is set into a jazzy grid of patterning. It seems that each of the central images is an escape hatch of some sort, a door through which a better reality may exist. The artist seems to be saying that time, genetics and/or psychic machinations all lead inward to the void that hovers as black space at the edges of the composition. That void is the nothingness at the edges of human experience that some attribute to God, others to death, others of the vast and expansive boundlessness of the universe. However one interprets the void, the message the artist is sending is profound. We are caught in a distracting and cacophonous world but if we push inwards we can relocate ourselves to a more still and peaceful realm. The work puts me in mind of the 13th Century mystical poet Rumi who writes, “out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” A nocturne is a musical composition inspired by darkness. In each of Freed’s Nocturnes, a piece of paper has been coated in black paint and then sanded until the paint seems distressed and eroded. Against this matte darkness are implied grids composed of bright points of color. The grid in Freed’s work acts as the ground we are born into, but his use of bright marks within the grid seems to indicate that despite the limitations imposed on us by culture, expectation, embodiment and mortality, we can still be luminous and distinct. Musing on experience, the artist commented, “Do we ever reach understanding? Over the course of our lives we slowly receive knowledge but do we ever receive an abundance of that knowledge?” Freed’s work links the oppositions of human experience together visually so that knowing and unknowing coexist within one frame. And in that way, he speaks for all of us.

Tanya Hartman is an artist, critic, and Associate Professor of art at the School of the Arts, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS. This text is one in a series of the gallery’s exhibitions written by fellow gallery artists and friends.

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Afterword BY BRUNO L. DAVID

I am pleased to present Damon Freed’s fourth solo exhibition with the gallery entitled Obstacle and Void. Freed writes on this new series of work “There’s something raw that I like about working on paper. The surface is readily absorbent; it holds the mark in a different way than canvas. It allows for both a delicate hand and a forceful touch, for both staining techniques and marks that are thicker and squeezed directly from the tube. In this series, you will notice that I have divided the paper formats into three sections. I have held onto the central motif of the square that I am accustomed to, yet extended the pieces above and below to create vertical formats. In most of the paintings the above and below spaces act as voids, a place to rest. Most of the painterly activity happens in the middle of the verticals, inside of the square. With this in mind, three of the key pieces in the show exhibit what I refer to as Obstacle and Void space. Like nonobjective or nonrepresentational paintings from times past we must also be unsatisfied with what came before and envision anew. We cannot rest on the old terms used to communicate, however unlikely, with words what pictures provide today. To create a new language of forms is also to create a new language of terms used to discuss the forms. And indeed we are creating new forms. So to the evolution of positive and negative, foreground and background, figure and field, push and pull, I would like to propose the idea of Obstacle and Void. The need for a new wording has arisen out of my work. When viewing the obstacle one must visually go around it. In definitive works it is there. It is the positive or protruding shape within the composition that one must work to understand and to spatially navigate. Upon going around the shapes one may rest in the void space of the picture. I often associate the void with relaxation of the eyes and mind. It is the part of the picture that relates strongly to the metaphysical or ethereal quality of being and seeing. It is usually the more atmospheric part of the painting. The major difference between Hans Hofmann’s idea of push and pull and my outlining of Obstacle and Void space is that the obstacle and void do not interchange. The obstacle, like a boulder in your way on a path, is static. The void is akin to the sky behind the boulder.”

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Damon Freed works and lives in Missouri. He received a M.F.A. from Hunter College, New York, and a B.F.A. from the School of Visual Arts, New York. Support for the creation of significant new works of art has been the core to the mission and program of the Bruno David Gallery. I would like to express my sincere thanks to Tanya Hartman for her thoughtful essay. I am deeply grateful to Eileen Milford and Laine Johnson, who gave much time, talent, and expertise to the production of this catalogue. Invaluable gallery staff support for the exhibition was provided by Keri Robertson, Cleo Azariadis, Eileen Milford, Daniel Stumeier.

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CHECKLIST & IMAGES OF THE EXHIBITION

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Neon Romance, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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Now 2, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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Hybrid, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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It’s Genetic, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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Now 1, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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Two Androgynous Figures, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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Lyrical, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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Her and Him, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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Nature Boy, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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Obsessive, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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A Comet Appears, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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Relocation Portal 1 (Obstacle & Void), 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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Pinky, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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Pretty Sturdy, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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Relocation Portal 2 (Obstacle and Void), 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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A Dream, The Conscious, and the Subconscious, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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Big Top, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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Relocation Portal 2 (Obstacle & Void), 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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Day Glo Facade, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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Four Shapes, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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Madness, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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Symbol Painting, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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Too Stoned, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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It’s a Mystery, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 41.5 x 29.5 inches (105.41 x 74.93 cm)

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Nocturn #10, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 22.5 x 22.5 inches (57.15 x 57.15 cm)

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Nocturn #8, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 22.5 x 22.5 inches (57.15 x 57.15 cm)

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Nocturn #7, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 22.5 x 22.5 inches (57.15 x 57.15 cm)

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Nocturn #12, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 22.5 x 22.5 inches (57.15 x 57.15 cm)

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Nocturn #1, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 22.5 x 22.5 inches (57.15 x 57.15 cm)

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Nocturn #2, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 22.5 x 22.5 inches (57.15 x 57.15 cm)

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Nocturn #3, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 22.5 x 22.5 inches (57.15 x 57.15 cm)

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Nocturn #4, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 22.5 x 22.5 inches (57.15 x 57.15 cm)

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Nocturn #5, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 22.5 x 22.5 inches (57.15 x 57.15 cm)

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Nocturn #6, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 22.5 x 22.5 inches (57.15 x 57.15 cm)

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Nocturn #11, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 22.5 x 22.5 inches (57.15 x 57.15 cm)

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Nocturn #9, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 22.5 x 22.5 inches (57.15 x 57.15 cm)

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Morning Light, 2014 Acrylic and flashe on Arches watercolor paper 22.5 x 22.5 inches (57.15 x 57.15 cm)

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Damon Freed: Obstacle and Void (installation view)

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Damon Freed: Obstacle and Void (installation view)

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Damon Freed: Obstacle and Void (installation view)

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Damon Freed: Obstacle and Void (installation view)

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Damon Freed EDUCATION M.F.A. Hunter College, City University of New York, New York, NY B.F.A. School of Visual Arts, New York, NY State Fair Community College, Sedalia Missouri

SOLO EXHIBITION 2015 2014 2012 2011 2009

Bruno David Gallery, “Obstacle and Void,” Saint Louis, MO (catalogue) Daum Museum of Contemporary Art “Four Point Perspective,” Sedalia, MO Bruno David Gallery, “Damon Freed: En Plein Air,” Saint Louis, MO (catalogue) Three Rivers Community College, “Damon Freed: Grid Games,” Poplar Bluff, MO Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art, “Damon Freed: Cadence,” Kansas City, MO Bruno David Gallery, “Damon Freed: Life Saver,” Saint Louis, MO (catalogue) Bruno David Gallery, “Damon Freed: Calm, Cool, Coherent,” Saint Louis, MO (catalogue)

SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS 2015 2014 2013 2012

In Good Company, Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO Paperworks, Liberty Center Loft Gallery, Sedalia, MO OVERVIEW_2014, Bruno David Gallery, St. Louis, MO Summer Invitational, Sherry Leedy Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO Blue, White, and Red, Bruno David Gallery, St. Louis, MO December Group Show, Liberty Center Loft Gallery, Sedalia, MO October Group Show, Liberty Center Loft Gallery, Sedalia, MO

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2010 2009 2006 2003

RECESSION REJUVENATIONS, Bruno David Gallery, St. Louis, MO OVERVIEW_09, Bruno David Gallery, St. Louis, MO Gallery Selections: Small Scale Works, Tobey Fine Arts, New York Correspondence to a Single Point: A Survey of Geometric Abstraction, Tobey Fine Arts, New York Hum, Curated by Shinsuke Aso, Tobey Fine Arts, New York The Wild Bunch, Curated by Tim Rollins, White Box Gallery, New York

GRANTS/AWARDS 2003 2002 2001 2000

Honors—School of Visual Arts, New York Juan Gonzales Award—School of Visual Arts, New York Fine Arts Departmental Grant—School of Visual Arts, New York Silas H. Rhodes Merit Scholarship—School of Visual Arts, New York Dr. Tony Racela Grant—State Fair Community College

BIBLIOGRAPHY Hartman, Tanya. Bemiss, Faith. Bemiss, Faith. Baran, Jessica. Cooper, Ivy. Gordon, Kara. Siegel, Kyle. Cooper, Ivy. Baran, Jessica. Weant, Nancy. Nail, Sarah.

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“Selfless: The Work of Damon Freed”, Esssay, Bruno David Gallery Publications, Exhibition catalogue, 2015 “SFCC art instructors show variety of work at Daum”, Sedalia Democrat, October 3, 2014 “How Paperworks”, Sedalia Democrat, July 19-20, 2014 “Life Saver at Bruno David gallery”, Riverfront Times, December 15, 2011 “Winter wondering at Bruno David Gallery”, St. Louis Beacon, December 5, 2011 “Calibration”, Esssay, Bruno David Gallery Publications, Exhibition catalogue, 2011 “SNJ Community Profile”, Sedalia News Journal, September 6, 2011 “Damon Freed”, St. Louis Beacon, March 19, 2009 “Damon Freed: Calm, Cool, Coherent”, Riverfront Times, March 25, 2009 “Damon Freed: Calm, Cool, Coherent”, Essay, Bruno David Gallery Publications, Exhibition catalogue, 2009 “Easy on the Eyes”, Sedalia Democrat, September 18, 2008


PUBLICATIONS “Douglass Freed: Reflective Landscapes”, Interview, Bruno David Gallery Publications, Exhibition catalogue, 2015 “Kelley Johnson: New Paintings”, Essay, Bruno David Gallery Publications, Exhibition catalogue, 2013 “Damon Freed: En Plein Air”, Poems, Bruno David Gallery Publications, Exhibition catalogue, 2012 “Damon Freed: Life Saver”, Poems, Bruno David Gallery Publications, Exhibition catalogue, 2011

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brunodavidgallery.com @bdavidgallery #BrunoDavidGallery #DamonFreed facebook.com/bruno.david.gallery goodartnews.com/


ARTISTS Laura Beard Heather Bennett Lisa K. Blatt Bunny Burson Michael Byron Carmon Colangelo Alex Couwenberg Jill Downen Yvette Drury Dubinsky Beverly Fishman Damon Freed Douglass Freed

Ellen Jantzen Michael Jantzen Kelley Johnson Howard Jones (Estate) Chris Kahler Bill Kohn (Estate) Leslie Laskey Peter Marcus Patricia Olynyk Gary Passanise Judy Pfaff

Daniel Raedeke Tom Reed Frank Schwaiger Charles Schwall Christina Shmigel Thomas Sleet Shane Simmons Buzz Spector Cindy Tower Ken Worley Monika Wulfers

Profile for Bruno David Gallery

Damon Freed: Obstacle and Void  

Published by the gallery for the exhibition “Obstacle and Void” by Damon Freed at Bruno David Gallery. This catalogue includes essay by Tany...

Damon Freed: Obstacle and Void  

Published by the gallery for the exhibition “Obstacle and Void” by Damon Freed at Bruno David Gallery. This catalogue includes essay by Tany...