Overlook Paintings, Barbara Friedman’s second solo show at MSFA, is both a continuation and a departure – a continuation of her work’s projection of uncertainty and transience, and a departure from the nearly cinematic sensibility of her earlier paintings into a more overtly theatrical exploration and reintegration of American landscape traditions.
Frequently employing a nearly vertiginous vertical format, Friedman’s Overlook Paintings invoke the panoramic vision of the Hudson River painters of the 19th century. The isolation of small figures within the dramatically scaled space of the work simultaneously indicates senses of awe and of alienation. This doubling of meaning is also inherent in the artist’s choice of a title. As Friedman notes:
“If all painting begins with looking, my recent paintings can be described as having their birth in a particular kind of looking, the overlook. The overlook combines a superior viewpoint with a distance that makes it hard to see anything. That is the subject of these pieces.
I chose “overlook” to describe my newest series of paintings because it is a word that can mean the opposite of itself. Just as what is left is what remains but what has left has gone away, “overlook” can describe a high complete vantage point but can also point to a neglectful way of seeing.”
Barbara Friedman has lived and shown her work in New York City since 1983, after receiving her B.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design and her M.F.A. from UC Berkeley. Also since 1983 she has been Professor of Art at Pace University. She has had numerous solo exhibitions in New York City, including, The Painting Center, Queens Museum, and White Columns (New York City); Van Brunt Gallery (Beacon, NY), Carnegie-Mellon University (Pittsburgh), Cleveland State University, Dana Wright Gallery, San Francisco, and The Roanoke Museum of Fine Arts; two-person shows at the Wallace Gallery of SUNY Old Westbury and Marymount Manhattan College; and group shows at the Drawing Center, Artists Space, Exit Art, Art in General, Gray Art Gallery, the Terry Dintenfass Gallery (all New York City); the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, Staten Island; the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art in Connecticut; and the Metro Building in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Reviews of her work have appeared in the New York Times, the New York Sun, The Irish Times, Newsday, Art in America, ARTS Magazine, and Artweek.