Pia Fries

Switzerland 1955


Pia Fries
Pia Fries
October 15, 2014
Music, Gestalt, .

Pia Fries uses photographed and silkscreened elements in her work alongside and under and against fantastic piles of caked, troweled, scraped and smeared oil paint. Her extroverted passages of paint nearly always surface and submerge from areas of flat white ground. The separation of the gestures by both white spaces and the distinction of photographed marks from “real” marks keeps her work from expressionism. Each thought, however juicy, is captured and placed separately and is therefore not a painterly simulation of an ecstatic state but more possibly a dissection of one.

Born in Switzerland in 1955, she studied sculpture at the Lucerne School of Art in 1980, then moved on to the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf to study painting with Gerhard Richter until 1986. Critics have pointed out that Fries sometimes uses the squeegee to apply paint, like her mentor, but the similarity in their method ends there. Fries has said she learned from Richter not any specific theory of painting but the belief that painting was something that “you can do today.”

Using palette knives, squeegees and extruding tools that she makes herself, Pia Fries loads paint in massive quantities onto snowy white panels, creating viscerally attractive topographies of striated swathes, rippling ribbons, melting puddles and bristly thickets of brush strokes. The paint itself seems to have absorbed the playful spirit of the artist and taken on a comically agitated life of its own. Pia Fries uses both photography and sieve printing on a white background beside, and beneath, mounds of oil paint that has been piled, scraped and then smeared into position. These generously-applied layers of oil paint lend the work a layered, almost sculptural, landscape quality.

Fries has exhibited extensively in Europe and the United States, and had her first solo show in London with Bernard Jacobson Gallery in 2007. She had a retrospective at the Kunstmuseum Winterthur in the same year. Although complex in their imagery and with obvious reference to the great American Abstract Expressionists, her paintings have a particularly contemporary European freshness to them. 

Pia Fries lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group
2014Pia Fries, „Paysages Maritimes“, ONGOINGChristopher Grimes Gallery LASolo
2014paperfile #10galerie oqbo, BerlinGroup
2013Yes,No, Maybe" Artists Working at Crown Point PressNational Gallery of Art, WashingtonGroup
2013Pia Fries: paintings / Vera Lossau: Installations, Neue Galerie Gladbeck, GermanySolo
2012Pia Fries: randmeer CRG Gallery, New York, Solo
2012schöntrauer Galerie E105, Berlin, BerlinGroup
2011Iserlohner Kunstpreis Villa Wessel Iserlohn, GermanySolo
2011, “risk + reward”The Foster Gallery, Wisconsin,Group
2010Pia Fries – Krapprhizom Luisenkupfer , Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe,Solo
2010Don’t Look NowDie Sammlung Gegenwartskunst, Teil 1, Kunstmuseum BernGroup
2009Fred Thieler Preis 2009 , Berlinische Galerie, Berlin(catalogue)Solo
2009Drawing of the WorldWorld of Drawing, Museum of Art Seoul National UniversityGroup
2008Pia Fries. gutzgauch élévateur Mai 36 Galerie, Zürich,Solo
2008Wollust. The Presence of Absence Gruppenausstellung zur Neueröffnung der Columbus Art Foundation, LeipzigGroup
2007Pia Fries: loschaug, brochure CRG Gallery, New YorkSolo
200725th Anniversary Galerie Nelson, Paris,Group
2006Pia Fries: schwarzwild (catalogue) Bernard Jacobson Gallery, LondonSolo
2006Von Richter bis Scheibnitz: Deutsche Arbeiten auf ­Papier seit 1960 aus der SammlungKunstmuseum WinterthurGroup
2005Pia Fries: lukilux Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa Monica,Solo
2005Painting’s EdgeParks Exhibition Center on the Idyllwild Arts Campus, IdyllwildGroup
200425th Anniversary: The L. A. Years, Part IChristopher Grimes Gallery, Los AngelesGroup
2003Pia Fries: Les aquarelles de léningrad , Mai 36 Galerie, Zürich,
2003La Langue dans la boueMusée du Tapis et des Arts Textiles, Clermont-FerrandGroup
2002Pia Fries Galerie Nelson, Paris,Solo
2002Super-Abstr-Action 2 Galleria No Code, BolognaGroup
2001Pia Fries , The Box,TurinSolo
2001L.A. International Christopher Grimes Gallery, Santa MonicaGroup
2000Pia Fries Galerie Rolf Ricke, KölnSolo
2000Surface and PaintCRG Gallery, New YorkGroup
1999Pia Fries: Peinture ,
Galerie Nelson, Paris, Solo
1999special offerKasseler Kunstverein,Group
1998Pia Fries ,Kunstverein, (catalogue)
1998abstract: Malerei von Pia Fries, René J. Goffin, Birgit JensenGalerie Sfeir-Semler, KielGroup
1997Pia Fries Aargauer Kunsthaus Aarau,
1997Pia FriesBirgit Jensen, Kunstverein ArnsbergGroup
1996Pia Fries Mai 36 Galerie, Zürich, Solo
1996Unsere Zeit–Our Time, Galerie Schönewald und Beuse, KrefeldGroup
1995Pia Fries
Galerie Benzeholz, Meggen, Solo
19953 Positionen zur Malerei: Pia Fries, Gerhard Martini, Paul MoranGalerie Cora Hölzl, Düsseldorf, Group
1994Pia Fries Mai 36 Galerie, ZürichSolo
1994en miniature: Malerei und SkulpturGalerie Schönewald und Beuse, KrefeldGroup
1993Pia Fries
Galerie Ludwig, Krefeld,Solo
1993Hans Brändli, Pia Fries, Karin KneffelGalerie ­Rüdiger Schöttle, MünchenGroup
1992Pia Fries Kunstmuseum LuzernSolo
19921987–1992: Die 29. AusstellungMai 36 Galerie, ­LuzernGroup
1990Szene Schweiz (catalogue)Mannheimer Kunstverein, ­Mannheim,
1989Präsentation der jurierten Werke. Werkbeiträge des Kantons und der Stadt Luzern, Wettbewerb Bildende Kunst 1989 Kulturpanorama am Löwenplatz, LuzernGroup
1988Pia Fries
Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, MünchenSolo
1988Helmut Dorner, Pia Fries, Axel Kasseböhmer, Jürgen MeyerGalerie Nelson, LyonGroup
1986Treibhaus 4Kunstmuseum DüsseldorfGroup
1985Pour parer les coupsGalerie Instant, Kriens,Group
1984Sammlung Helmut Klinker: Malerei, Bildhauerei, ­Objekte und Graphik Kunstmuseum BochumGroup
1982Hans Brändli, Bogomir Ecker, Pia Fries, André ­Gelpke, Arno Jansen, Astrid Klein, Bernd Minnich, Augustina von Nagel, Peter Telljohannalerie Maier-Hahn, Düsseldorf,Group