Suzan Frecon: 'Oil Paintings and Sun'
Suzan Frecon came to Minimalism late, but she has persisted and her work has a deeper, quieter kind of originality: a sense of unassailable integrity and the fullness of form. Now in her early 70s, Ms. Frecon has for over three decades been homing in on one or two simple shapes seen against one color. Her newest paintings have two panels whose division forms a kind of horizon line, while the shapes themselves imply curved hillocks, small mountains, crystalline ponds, low-hanging clouds and rising or setting suns. Despite the use of "Sun" in this show's title, her colors, which she grinds and mixes herself, tend toward dark. Rust, blues and greens prevail here with results that seem like nocturnes. They combine Rothko's color at its most winey and most somber with the carefully modulated geometries of Ellsworth Kelly, but are always clearly handmade, painted with a meditative quality that evokes Morandi.
Ms. Frecon's images are obviously landscapes, but they also resemble something stranger: actual sculptures completely flattened against the surface, with traces of light and space lingering behind them that go beyond simple illusionism into actual perception. This balancing of nature and artifice is both exquisite and witty. Part of the physicality of the work stems from Ms. Frecon's earthy color sense but also from her subtle yet decisive contrasts of matte and shiny surfaces. The paintings have a profoundly odd optical reality that is all their own. They are obdurate objects that don't quite dwell in our space, which is what makes them so exceptional.