Frederique Stref
  • Grey Instagram Icon
  • Grey Facebook Icon

Curator notes

The Luscious World of Frédérique Stref

 

Frédérique Stref is a French artist who was deeply influenced by her father’s passion for glassmaking. Her most cherished childhood memories relate to the fascination she had for the workshop where her father would cast glass sculptures using a kiln casting technique known as pâte de verre. The melting of the crystal pieces produced effects of spellbinding translucency that left a deep impression on her. Together with the remarkable Art Nouveau architecture of her native city, Nancy, the time consuming technique of pâte de verre would plant the seed of Stref’s future artistic practice. 

 

 

The gradations in Blue Attraction hint at the infinite blue shades of Maldivian waters, the yellow and purple tones of La Plaine recall the colours of provençale flower fields, and the deep red shades of Temple recreate the ancient gateway to a Chinese temple. A beauty and wellness consultant, adept at handling luscious balms, Stref also feels an elemental fascination for encaustic’s fragrance and tactility

Fiorenza De Monti

Curator & Art Writer

Serendipity

 

Inspired from Frédérique Stref and Kieu Hanh Morel’s serendipitous encounter in Singapore, the exhibition features abstract and figurative works stemming from the artists’ memories and experiences. Both artists grew up in creative environments. Morel learnt to draw from her architect father and this skill heavily informs her current practice of painting from photographs. Stref spent her childhood in her father’s glass-making workshop in Nancy, where she became fascinated with the spellbinding translucent density of pâte de verre, a fascination that later influenced her to turn to encaustic painting.  

Having spent many years away from their original homes, Stref and Morel draw inspiration for their artworks from memories. Stref’s encaustic paintings capture the impressions gathered by her sensesin the different countries she visited,resulting in images that are both abstract and tangible. Morel’s oil and acrylic paintings express a nostalgia for her homelandthrough idealised depictions of its rural world and inhabitants, in the traditional Vietnamese figurative style.  

Serendipitybrings together artworks inspired from different cultural backgrounds, sensibilities and techniques, which confront the viewer with personal outlooks on the world

Fiorenza De Monti

Curator & Art Writer

Three square medallions with organic motifs carved in relief stand out from the purple marble-like background of Somehow. In this piece inspired by architectural elements, Stref takes advantage of the new approach to the longtime painting concerns of the rendering of texture facilitated by encaustic to create strong dimensional effects. With the help of a blowtorch and clay modeling tools, the artist starts a dancelike interaction with the medium that results in sculptured reliefs. Covered in green and golden patina, these three medallions bring to mind the bronze carved portals of ancient churches. In the Catholic faith, number three stands for the Holy Trinity. This highly symbolic number recurs in many other religions and spiritual traditions to signify the divine order of the universe. However, the motifs that Stref’s panels display are not inspired from religious iconography; instead, their organic shapes, which recall a blend of soil and leaves, illustrate the spiritual relationship that the artist entertains with the five elements, a relationship that is fundamental to her connection to self.

Fiorenza De Monti

Curator & Art Writer

As is the case with pâte de verre, the fleeting substance of encaustic does not always  respond faithfully to the artist’s creative effort, leaving part of the creative process open to chance. The unexpected intermingling of the colours capture the modulations of tones and the variations in the texture of matter that she observed during her travels around the world, creating images that are at the same time abstract and tangible.

When looking at Stromboli, one feels immediately transported into the atmosphere of a sunny day on a Mediterranean island. The royal blue tones at the bottom of the painting hint at the deep blue sea and the lighter blue shades at the top  suggest a cloudless summer sky. The viewer would expect these blue planes to meet along the infinite line of the horizon, composing a serene and calming ocean scene. Instead, swaths of vivid orange, red and yellow unfold before the eye, like an impetuous river of lava overflowing into the skies. This is the same lava to which Ingrid Bergman was dangerously drawn to in the dramatic movie directed by Roberto Rossellini, Stromboli. By juxtaposing light and dark tones of red and by imprinting a horizontal direction to adjacent layers of wax, Stref conveys the impression that the flow of magma advances inexorably, reminding us that nature cannot be harnessed and that we will always be subjected to its indomitable force.

 

 Fiorenza De Monti

Curator & Art Writer

In Oud L’instant, the artist creates a sophisticated composition based on amber and ochre tones reminiscent of the precious beauty elixirs that she handles in her professional practice. Oud is an extremely rare essence extracted from agar trees whose dark, rich and opaque juice  has a mysterious, tantalising and complex aroma that is coveted by the best perfumers in the world. Stref takes advantage of the intrinsic properties of depth and lusciousness lent by encaustic to create a sensuous colour palette. Through the patient kneading of the medium, she achieves a translucent drip-like texture that recalls the viscosity and slow motion of sap dripping from the tree, hinting thereby at the methods of extraction of Oud essence. A golden arabesque, inspired by Art Nouveau’s sinuous lines, unfolds at the center of the pictorial plane, alluding to the opulent notes of Oud’s lingering fragrance. Gold, which has long been used in art to signify the Divine, conveys the idea of the sacred. The artwork, elevated to the status of icon, becomes the repository of the artist’s soul.

Fiorenza De Monti

Curator & Art Writer