The Knight Campus Art Gallery presents “David Frazer: Improvisation – Call and Response,” featuring paintings the Rhode Island School of Design professor created in 2011-12, through Oct. 25.
A reception with the artist will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18, at the gallery, with an artist talk at 6.
Frazer said the title of this exhibition, “Call and Response,” is a tradition of improvised exchange in music as well as an act of communication within species. “As a painter, I begin with improvisation and proceed by ‘call and response,’ one condition suggesting another,” he writes. “I improvise using the methods of abstract expressionism to generate chaos while ironically trying to control it. My desire as a painter is not to tell a story that has a conclusion but to reflect what is seen in my mind’s eye.
Hubris allows us to think we can coexist with nature while trying to control it. Self-serving mythologies give us ‘dominion over the earth,’ and this belief allows us to exploit our natural resources at others’ expense and, ultimately, our own. Contradictions abound, making our lives chaotic and our environment dangerous. Paradoxically I want my work to embody all the contradictions, danger and chaos I see around us while simultaneously trying to embrace them.”
Frazer said he is a linear painter with a love of graphic clarity and formal construction. “I also believe in avoiding claims to objective truth, so I allude to collage and transfer imagery while painting everything by hand. I use templates to repeat the motifs of eggs and birds that create compositional structure while enhancing their presence as metaphors. While the question of whether these paintings are abstract or representational may be legitimate, it is not one that can ever be answered definitively,” he writes. “These paintings are not observations of nature, nor are they concerned with conventional notions of beauty; they are psychic landscapes that are always slippery, contradictory and answerless. Simply stated, I love the tradition of painting that is entirely self-indulgent yet struggles to do good and to be good.”
Frazer, a professor in the painting department in the Fine Arts Division at RISD since 1978, holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from RISD and a Master’s degree in painting from the University of New Mexico. He teaches sophomore painting and first-year MFA painting. He is the chairman of RISD’s European Honors Committee and was the chief critic in Rome for that program from 1995-98 and director/teacher of the RISD Rome Summer Programs in architecture, painting and art history from 1995-2007. His honors include faculty development grants in 1991 and 1997; sponsored research at Zhejiang Academy of Fine Arts (now the China Academy of Art) in Hangziou, China, in 1988; inclusion in the 2006 Gongju International Art Festival in South Korea; and lecturing and teaching workshops at a number of universities including Chu Ang University in South Korea, Brown University, Skidmore College and Adelphi University. He has exhibited in the United States, Europe and Asia.
The gallery is located in Room 3500, on the third floor of the round building at the Warwick campus, 400 East Ave. Gallery hours are from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.