Bernard Frize - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in association with Yongle Hong Kong Tuesday, November 29, 2022 | Phillips

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  • "Painting and art, in general, is a discussion between people. I have a secret conversation with artists from the past, and this conversation feeds my work. I suppose that if people like my work they have a secret conversation with me too."
    — Bernard Frize

    Dissocié, translating to ‘dissociated’ in English, is a vibrant example of French and Berlin based painter Bernard Frize’s instantly recognisable abstract paintings. Like a chessboard composed of a kaleidoscopic range of both warm and cool tones, wide strokes of the artist’s brush split the canvas into a grid of 25 rectangles. Both delicate and complex in its execution, from afar, the eye picks up on similarities shared across each square’s formation. However as the viewer steps closer, they enter into an intimate acquaintance with the beautiful variances caught within details that contradict and overturn Frize’s highly regimented creative approach.  

    Frize was born in Saint-Mandé, France in 1949 and studied at the École des beaux-Arts within the Montpellier National Art School, before spending some time working at a screen-printing factory serving artists including Pierre Soulages and Tetsumi Kudo. In the mid-1970s, he began to incorporate strict sets of rules in his artistic practice, seeking to reduce painting to its most simple and material elements. Although critics have compared his work to aspects of Colour Field painting, Abstract Expressionism and Minimalism, Frize’s calculated approach to abstraction is entirely unique and has decisively influenced the international discourse on the genre for over four decades. 


    Frank Stella, Tahkt-I-Sulayman Variation II, 1969
    Collection of the Minneapolis Institute of Art
     Artwork: © 2022 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    To begin a painting, Frize positions his canvas flat as opposed to up against a wall: a method of working also favoured by American artist Jackson Pollock who sought to convey the emotion of movement. Differing from Pollock, however, Frize then follows a methodological approach to eradicate every intuitive decision from the process of creation, instead favouring the notion of ‘generation and corruption’, whereby something occurs above a system to disorder it as the artist cedes creative control to the medium itself. As observed by curator Jean-Pierre Criqui, ‘the painting, then, is a consequence, a record rather than a goal the artist decided to achieve; it is the image of its own execution’.i

    ‘Bernard Frize's paintings evince a colorful, soft-edged geometry that is savvy and nonchalant.’ 
    — Roberta Smith for The New York Times


    Directed by gridlines drawn out with pencil—with hints of this process still visible upon a closer viewing— Frize weaves an iridescent tapestry of lattice-like brushstrokes, each of which contains seemingly numerable variances of colour. Using a fluid concoction of acrylic and resin, chance then comes into play as the medium flows, splatters, spreads and mixes, catching pigment from previous brush pulls as the artist’s disciplined framework disrupts to leave no trace as to which mark met the canvas first. A curious juxtaposition of texture is introduced once the wet coat of resin absorbs and eventually dries evenly across the surface, as although Dissocié may initially appear to be formed of jewel-toned ridges of paint left in the wake of sweeping strokes of the brush, when looking at the painting from side on, it becomes overtly apparent that the surface has been rendered perfectly flat. The result is an optical illusion of sorts, as the tensions between order and disorder harmonise to generate a powerful sense of illusionistic depth. 


    Detail of the present work

    ‘Ideas take improbable paths… And I am sometimes amazed myself by their own logic.’
    — Bernard Frize

    In 2019 Bernard Frize’s oeuvre was the subject of a mid-career retrospective, Bernard Frize, Without Remorse at Centre Pompidou. Last year, Galerie Perrotin in Shanghai presented a solo show titled The Other Side (From Right-To-Left Or The Reverse)., which marked the artist’s first solo gallery exhibition in mainland China. 

    Frize’s works are included in more than 45 public collections around the world, including the Tate Gallery, London; Centre Pompidou, Paris; MUMOK, Vienna; Museo Nacional Centro de Reina Sofia, Madrid; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and the Kunstmuseums in Basel and Zurich, amongst others.


      Bernard Frize’s studio, October 2022
    Video Courtesy of @bernardfrize

      Bernard Frize’s studio, October 2022

    i Jean-Pierre Criqui, ‘Bernard Frize: Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris’, Artforum, November 2003, p. 183
    ii Bernard Frize, quoted in Jurriaan Benschop, Bernard Frize: Togetherless, Istanbul, 2018

    • Provenance

      Galerie Perrotin, Paris
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Literature

      Jean-Pierre Criqui and Suzanne Hudson, Bernard Frize, Grenoble, 2014, p. 67 (illustrated)



acrylic and resin on canvas
190 x 160.6 cm. (74 3/4 x 63 1/4 in.)
Executed in 2008.

Full Cataloguing

HK$700,000 - 900,000 

Sold for HK$945,000

Contact Specialist

Danielle So
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+852 2318 2027

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale in association with Yongle

Hong Kong Auction 30 November 2022