Bernard Frize - Modern & Contemporary Art Day Sale Hong Kong Saturday, June 1, 2024 | Phillips
  • “The subject of my work is not to create processes and rules, they are solely means for doing my work and wanting to work. Painting is a way of exploring ideas and giving them a body to inhabit, so as to be seen and shared.” 
    — Bernard Frize


    Bernard Frize has spent nearly five decades interrogating the fundamental nature of painting through his inventive techniques and mastery of process. Since the late 1970s, his work has mined the complex relationship between method, material, and outcome. Devising meticulous systems of paint application that rely on the logic of materials rather than predetermined visual schemes, Frize relinquishes a degree of compositional control to explore the potential of his medium. Often working in extensive series defined by a set of parameters, Frize exhaustively investigates a particular process until he deems its possibilities exhausted.


    The present lot titled Lark is part of such serial explorations executed by the artist in 2015, emphasizing the variations that emerge from a common structural genesis. In this vibrantly colored acrylic work, Frize traces dazzling patterns using brushes strapped together and loaded with different hues. He choreographs their movement across a resin-slicked canvas, resulting in mesmerizing grids and geometric forms that echo mathematical theory.ii Despite this rigorous approach, his embrace of the paint's inherent fluidity introduces serendipity. The bleeding, overlapping colors and varied brush marks create an enthralling visual energy. 


    Through his serial inquiries, Frize reveals the inexhaustible complexity beneath painting's fundamental ingredients. Process and materiality remain his subjects of investigation, while his role shifts from composer to facilitator. As this painting demonstrates, Frize continues finding revelatory new permutations within defined procedural parameters, making his work a profound meta-investigation into the practice of painting itself.


    In Search of Painting's Essence


    Kazimir Malevich, Airplane Flying: Suprematist Composition, 1915


    At first glance, the vibrant geometric abstractions of Bernard Frize seem worlds away from Kazimir Malevich's radical Suprematist canvases. Yet, a kindred spirit exists between these two explorers of the elemental nature of painting. Across a century that separates them, both artists exhibit a philosophical fascination with reducing painting to its fundamental components. Malevich sought to break painting down to its most irreducible aspects of line, shape and color. With his iconic Black Square, he rejected outward representation for pure abstraction, paring painting to an absolute simplicity. Frize's cerebral approach similarly investigates the medium's essential materials and processes devoid of figuration or ornament. Through analytical methods and geometric language, both accessed the fundamental building blocks of painting in revolutionary ways.


    i “Bernard Frize at Simon Lee Hong Kong, GalleriesNow.Net, 20 July 2017, online.

    ii Vincent Pecoil, ‘Bernard Frize’, Zrodeux 02, online

    • Provenance

      Galerie nächst St. Stephan, Vienna
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Vienna, Galerie nächst St. Stephan, Logische Schlussfolgerung, 13 February - 27 March 2021



signed and titled '"LARK" Bernard FRIZE' on the overlap
acrylic and resin on canvas
122 x 122 cm. (48 x 48 in.)
Executed in 2019.

Full Cataloguing

HK$300,000 - 500,000 

Sold for HK$444,500

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Modern & Contemporary Art Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 1 June 2024