Everything I create is deliberately ambiguous,” says Friederike Oeser, whose Travel Diary, a ten-work series of art–oil, pastels on paper—was on view at the Montserrat Contemporary Art Gallery.
“I want to guide you to look carefully, attentively, fully,” says this gifted artist. “First at everything in the world I have created for myself, and then, at everything in yours,” she says. “My goal is to inspire you to look not just at all that is, but all that can be.”
Born in Nuremberg, Germany in 1959, Oeser studied graphic design and art in Munich, London, and beyond. In recent years she has traveled extensively and worked in Europe, Asia, Africa and the United States. Now, she is once again based in Munich creating personal, intimate vibrant new work that she exhibits in galleries and museums around the world. Her work is featured in public collections and museums internationally, and private collections in China, Italy, Korea, and the United States.
Oeser is best known for drawings, silkscreens, and aluminum sculptures designed to create a meeting of the conscious and subconscious. Oeser started her career with oil pastels and pencil drawings. Over time, her oil pastel paintings have become more abstract and three dimensional. Her goal is to challenge you to seek personal meaning in these abstract paintings. She seems to be telling you not to seek clues or a hidden narrative. Her shapes and colors do not pretend to represent the places where she paints. With color, tone, and line she evokes a landscape, a city market, a group of workers on their lunch break, but she does not reproduce them, except in her mind and she hopes, in your mind as well.
In the Travel Diary series Oeser’s pastel entitled The Music of Fall and Winter was inspired by numerous visits to the musical instruments collection in a Munich museum. “I draw them knowing that as they were played they told stories…” she says.
Another work in the Travel Diary series is called Zurich at a Glance. Here her pastel reflects the city’s purity and stillness that she says is hard to match anywhere in the world. “I was there not as a painter, but a translator —a kind of interpreter, transforming dozens of messages being whispered through the windows and everything around me into shapes and forms by which I was able to see, even more intensely, the warmth and beauty of the city.”
Oeser’s observations are acute. As an artist who is a committed traveler, she is always searching for locations across Europe and Asia where she can soak up the culture. Every sound and sight helps her to absorb the essence of what she observes. There are no figurative aspects to her work. She reveals an inner vision as she captures her surroundings through shape, line, and color.
You might be tempted to call her way of working small gestural expressionism. Jackson Pollock used huge gestural expressionism with energetic sweeping movements across the canvas. Oeser’s work is small scale but like Pollock, it is also characterized by this type of energetic gesture where each non- biomorphic form is imbued with meaning.
What strikes you looking at her pastels is how bright and sunny they are. Each is a vibrantly colored, crisp and compelling composition, infused with optimism. There is a bright-eyed happiness in Oeser’s work. She wants to share her happy places with you where life is meant to be savored and enjoyed. Her art is a celebration. G&S
Montserrat Contemporary Art Gallery, 547 West 27th Street Her work may also be seen in the year-round salon montserrat.us
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