A life on the move
Frédérique Stref was born in 1967 in Nancy, the French capital of Art Nouveau. Thanks to her father, a railway regional manager with a need for creative endeavors, she grew up in an artistic environment and was exposed to several art techniques, among which was the kiln casting technique known as pâte de verre.Throughout her youth, the artist would regularly visit her family in the French Riviera, drawing inspiration from the incomparable colour shades and light of this sunny region.
In 1996, Stref moved to Brussels, where she trained as a Spa and massage therapist. In the Belgian capital she was, once more, surrounded by remarkable Art Nouveau architecture. Shortly after she would settle in Copenhagen and then in Den Haag. Both the organic lines of Art Nouveau and the elegant lines of Danish and Dutch designs bore a strong influence on her art. While she was living in the Netherlands, Frédérique stumbled upon artworks made with encaustic in an art gallery in Amsterdam. The sensuous texture of the medium struck a chord with her, bringing back to her memory the endearing translucency of the glass sculptures that her father used to create in his workshop. The artist immediately sensed that the texture and radiance of encaustic suited her sensory nature and would thereby enable her to closely render her deepest feelings.
In 2009 Stref relocated to Asia. In Hong Kong, she came across the work of Indian - American artist Natvar Bhavsar. The sensual resonance of Natvar Bhavsar’ paintings planted the seed of her own art practice together with Mark Rothko, whose ability to express profound emotion through colour left a deep impression on her several years earlier in London. The medium of encaustic which she discovered serendipitously in 1998 at an art gallery in the Netherlands remained an inspiration which she now felt she could express artfully like the two Colour Field masters, Rothko and Bhavsar.
Now, with a clear idea of what she was aiming at in her own art practice, Frédérique started looking for an encaustic master. She found him in the person of Gary Simmons, who lived in the French Riviera. In 2017, the artist traveled back to this much-loved region, eager to start a new chapter in her life. Simmons’ decades of experience with wax and encaustic technique gave Frédérique a firm foundation upon which she started developing her own artistic search.
After five years in Singapore, three and half years in New Zealand, today, Frédérique Stref lives in Vancouver BC, where she consistently weaves her international career as a counsellor & psychology with her practice as an encaustic painter.