Gudrun Mertes-Frady’s grounding principals are clarity and structure, pared down to essential forms. As a timeless organizing principle, geometry is consistently the underlying matrix or architecture. From that matrix, she bends the lines to create a spatial reference, teasing apart the structure of her paintings. This quasi-symmetry is served well by her attention to the surfaces. Some are matte and austere — the better to highlight the precise curved lines of the spaces she defines with authority. Others have a rich and luscious surface, which create a layering of soft, open spaces behind curvilinear marks. It is a beautiful foil, these deftly rendered contained spaces laid over a soft, undulating chromatic field.
Mertes-Frady has long incorporated metallic pigments, like aluminum and graphite, into her oils on canvas, as well as works on mylar and paper. Mica particles mixed in with the oil and pigments enhance that reflectivity, and shift one’s perception of the painting’s coloration as light moves across its surface. This is a deft way of challenging further her symmetries, as light plays tricks with the changing color aspects of the painting.
I’m very interested to explore physical fact and psychic effect of color and form with this process. I work toward the instant the painting has its own center, its own logic, physically and intellectually. Most of all I want my work to be about deceleration, in the spirit of the works by Olafur Eliasson and the Swiss architect Peter Zumthor, as a counterpoint to the ever accelerating whirl of our time, in which our lives seem trapped. And there is one more thing of importance to me: I’m going blatantly for a sense of beauty. — Gudrun Mertes-Frady