Pia Fries

1955 | Beromünster, Switzerland
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Pia Fries — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

© photo: Hans Brändli

Swiss painter.

Pia Fries studied in Luzern and Düsseldorf and was master student of Gerhard Richter. Today she teaches at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. Pia Fries paints with great care and a considered position, conceiving her artworks with a sense for structure, earnestness and a delicate touch, but also with a sense of colour and form. In all, it is a fortuitous mix of tightly controlled purism and ecstatic energy, in which she places great value on proportion and rhythm, and on a simultaneous harmony and disharmony of relationships. Her pictures are conceptual, but they are not conceptual art; they are abstract, but they are not abstract art. This is because their motifs, which revolve around colour, composition and expressiveness, are drawn from representational contexts. Her pictures present several layers of meaning, with several layers of references in the content.

P. Fries possesses a passion for metamorphosis, and an enthusiasm for deconstructing highly complex picture content and putting it back together. Her personal interest in and knowledge of art history is clear in her love of quoting from it, analysing, adapting and dismantling it. Thus her themes include outsiders and exotic figures such as Maria Sibylla Merian (1647-1717), Stefano della Bella (1610-1664) and Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617). She uses silkscreen printing to integrate their work into her pictures, thereby concentrating on the essence of their image statements. She has dedicated entire work groups to Goltzius’s figures of the Four Disgracers – a series of muscular figures falling from the heavens – from the year 1588. Pia Fries lends potency to this motif of falling and of whirling downward motion by deploying the resources of painting and by creating gaps and restrictions. In line with our modern-day habits of seeing, which demand speed and pace, she only partially transfers the bodies from the Goltzius images, and then combines these fragmentary pieces with painting. The most telling areas, such as the outspread legs or waving hair develop into entirely new image inventions. Body fragments enlarge to fill the image or shrink and become secondary. Whereas Goltzius’ figures are clearly about to collide with the ground, P. Fries’ versions of the falling figures seemingly float in an airless space, with no prospect of ever reaching any ground. Her picture elements are laid one atop the other, rotated 45° or 90° on or against their own axis. They may collide with the edge of the picture or vanish beneath viscous blocks of colour. These visually striking and intellectually stimulating images possess liveliness, freshness and modernity, and are entirely anchored in the here and now.

P. Fries is known for her free and unconventional use of paint. Rather than merely applying the paint flat with a brush, she also uses knives, spatulas, scrapers, rollers and other tools to model it into thick strands, creating an expressive landscape with a distinct relief effect, with raised and deeper areas.
For P. Fries, painting represents the most immediate form of expression for artistic creativity and creative power. Through painting, she carries out a continuous reflection upon and renewal of the two-dimensional surface and the intrinsic value of paint.
P. Fries has regularly exhibitions all over the world, her works are in numerous public collections (Kunsthaus Zürich, Museum Folkwang, Essen, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and much more).

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Valentina Vlašić

© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
Pia Fries — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Pia Fries, Kopfhas, 2004, Oilcolor and silkscreen print on wood, 110 x 145 cm, © photo: Hans Brändli, © Pia Fries / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, © ADAGP, Paris

Pia Fries — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Pia Fries, Maserzug 1, 2008, oilcolor and silkscreen print on wood, 200 x 170 cm, © photo: Hans Brändli, © Pia Fries / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, © ADAGP, Paris

Pia Fries — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Pia Fries, Corpus transludi B7, 2017, acrylic and silkscreen print on stone-paper on wood, 59.5 x 45 cm, © photo: Hans Brändli, © Pia Fries / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, © ADAGP, Paris

Pia Fries — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Pia Fries, Fahnenbild 11, 2010 , oilcolor and silkscreen print on wood, 220 x 170 cm, © photo: Hans Brändli, © Pia Fries / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, © ADAGP, Paris

Pia Fries — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Pia Fries, Segnas, 1996, oilcolor on wood, 120 x 150 cm, © photo: Hans Brändli, © Pia Fries / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, © ADAGP, Paris

Pia Fries — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Pia Fries, Schwarze blumen, 2016, oilcolor and silkscreen print on wood, 145 x 100 cm, © photo: Hans Brändli, © Pia Fries / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, © ADAGP, Paris

Pia Fries — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Pia Fries, Pylon kD, 2018, oilcolor and silkscreen print on wood, 80 x 60 cm, © photo: Hans Brändli, © Pia Fries / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, © ADAGP, Paris

Pia Fries — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Pia Fries, Parapylon 3, 2019, oilcolor and silkscreen print on wood, 240 x 150 cm, © photo: Hans Brändli, © Pia Fries / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, © ADAGP, Paris

Pia Fries — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Pia Fries, Lixfeld, 2005, oilcolor and silkscreen print on wood, 260 x 200 cm, © photo: Hans Brändli, © Pia Fries / VG Bild-Kunst Bonn, © ADAGP, Paris

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