Exclusive Artist Interview with Katrin Fridriks @ JD Malat Gallery

Ahead of the ‘Meet the Artist’ session (which is open to the public) on Friday the 8th March from 4-6pm at JD Malat Gallery, I had the opportunity to speak to Katrin Fridriks- the first female to have her own solo exhibition at the gallery. This accomplishment is very fitting given the fact this month is International Women’s Month and this Friday marks International Women’s Day. Katrin’s show ‘Grey Area’ will be exhibited until Saturday the 27th of April. For more information, visit the Gallery’s website here: https://jdmalat.com/

Congratulations on becoming the first female artist to have a solo show at the JD Malat Gallery. What do you think distinguishes your work from other female artists and what do you think in particular caught the eye of the gallery? Do you feel any pressure being the first female artist to have their own solo show?Thank you.

No, not really. I don’t feel any pressure. What I feel is rather just gratefulness. Gratefulness for having this privilege and the privilege of working with J.D. and his amazing team.

To me, the title of your exhibition ‘Grey Area’, carries connotations of a liminal, in between space, somewhere between black and white, something that cannot be seen or penetrated. What is the inspiration behind this title for your solo show? How does it relate to your artistic vision?

Yes, Grey Area is that in between space for, that undefined realm between black and white where everything is possible. It stands for all potentiality and possibility. The inspiration came while realizing how much of our understanding of the world, whether it be history or physics, is still what scientist call “a grey area”. So basically unknown, uncertain, undefined. Which means, and this is the main message, that there is still much to discover in this world or, like in this case with our solo show, re-discovered. Which for me, in my art, translates into going into uncharted territories, trying new approaches and techniques and once more push my own boundaries of what I thought would be possible.

After reading the press release for your show, particularly the fact your work explores ‘speed, gravity and the interactions between humans and the forces of nature’, and that ‘colours are expressed through frequencies’, do you think there is a relationship between science and art? If so, what do you think the relationship is?

Well, Braque once said that Art is meant to disturb while science reassures. In a way that is true. I think art and science, like magic or religion, are all branches of the same tree. They all aim at the pursuit of truth in a way, of beauty if one will. The artists usually get there before the scientists: they are able to sense, to envision beforehand, something that will, perhaps even decades later, become a philosophy or a scientific discovery. And that is because the artist, by definition, seeks the unknown, the unmanifested: they seek to extrapolate and make manifest from somewhere inside their minds and souls what is yet not there for everyone to see in the material world.

The fact your show is said to embody ‘all that is unseen, unsaid and unspoken’, how did you go about trying to visually represent this? What obstacles did you face in trying to channel concepts such as ‘speed’ and ‘gravity’ for example?

My installation Grey Area for example. It changes as the viewer changes its perspective walking around it. My hexagon installation is another one, you can see and assemble it in a variety of ways.

The press release further states how your compositions are an ‘extension’ of your ‘thoughts… moving and flowing around endlessly’. As an English undergraduate, currently writing my dissertation in between weekly essays, my work leaves me both mentally and physically exhausted. How would you describe the impact of your work on your body and your mind?

My work is certainly very physical and also requires mental preparation. What I do before any painting session is that I go into “the zone”. I isolate myself in my studio and start aligning to the sort of music and “frequency” I need to be to perform the movement I need to and put on canvas what I feel in that moment through them. Something very similar to what I witnessed being done by the Zen masters of calligraphy, trying to express in a few intense brushstrokes their entire soul at that given moment.

I am very intrigued by the book you created with Sebastian Di Giovanni to coincide with your show, specifically the use of thermo-chromatic ink which is only visible by touch. Are there any features such as these that you incorporated into the artwork itself, such as the installations? For example, features that would not be obvious on first glance?

Yes, as previously mentioned installations such as the triangle one, Grey Area, or Tryptamine, require the viewer to change their perspective to appreciate the multiform shape the painting reveal. The rest…well, you’ll have to discover it for yourself 😉

I was also intrigued by the creative process behind your work, which is both physical and mental, what is it about electronic music that gets your artistic juices flowing? Have you tried listening to other types of music?

Music is a fundamental part of my work. I need to “tune” into a specific frequency to allow my body and mind to be aligned to a set of vibrations that will allow me to express my art through my body movements. I tried, for sure…but electronic always does the trick for me.

Given the fact you are a native of Iceland, what relationship do you have with London as a city and England as a country? How has your work been received here compared to in other parts of the world and back home in Iceland?

Well, I actually haven’t lived much in Iceland but I will say that I feel a strong connection to it. To London too, it is, in fact, one of my favorite cities in the world and I couldn’t be more excited to be back here. They are both island nations that share a long history and amazing culture and people. My work as well has expressly been received in my home country and all over the world, but no where so well as in London which has always been an extremely generous place to me and has always had a special place in my heart.

Your work seems to push past and challenge boundaries and thresholds, what can we expect from future projects? Do you have any new ideas in the pipeline?

You bet I do. What you can expect from me, as always, is novelty.

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