Chicago artist Jean Alexander Frater makes paintings about paintings that deal in simple forms, restraint, and judiciousness. "If the idea doesn't work," she says, "then I roll up the canvas and put it away." Frater's paintings wryly upend long-held painting conventions by weaving strips of canvas onto a support or draping canvas over stretcher bars. She views painting as a "three-tiered process" and uses each juncture as an opportunity for new and inventive solutions.
Pink Mat (2019) shows us a yellow rectangle in a pink border constructed from strips of canvas. Although reminiscent of Josef Albers, the heavy texture and pattern stands in distinction to his Homage to the Square series, or geometric abstraction more generally. By titling it Pink Mat, Frater makes reference to the domestic sphere of dining rooms and placemats, subtly subverting the male-dominated tradition of Western Art History.
In Neptune Diplomat (2018) we see strips of black, peach, and turquoise canvas woven into multiple intersecting planes with a small bit of yellow peeking out from the corner. The bulge of the canvas along the edges give the piece a strange and irregular shape. Like a diplomat, this painting might be understood as the first to establish relations with a new place or mode of working, in this case, the far-flung planet of Neptune.
Silhouette (2019) is a minimal and richly textured composition showing an organic white shape surrounded by blackness. The simplicity of it allows for the materiality of the paint and canvas to take focus. Although it is unclear what, if anything, is being silhouetted, the irregularity of the shape has a clear affinity with the strangeness of bodies.
Jean is currently showing with Nick Albertson in a show titled Solid Echoes, up through July 6th at Aspect / Ratio. She is also busy opening a project space, Material, opening June 23rd with a solo exhibition of Nneka Kai’s work curated by Adia Sykes. Follow along on Instagram to see what's next! @jeanalexanderfrater