In the art of painter Frederika De Vierno, a reflection of her life between Rome and the United States, apparently distant attitudes successfully coexist. Deep and tenacious roots, germinated during her college years but with a long-lasting trace in her work, are constantly working beneath the surface, even in times when contingencies have kept her away from her brushes.
Looking at Frederika’s work today, in her Roman apartment, is tantamount to embracing a sequence of images that tell the story of a thirty year long journey, of a personal and artistic growth in which coherence and integrity can be caught along with a clear, recognizable style.
Frederika’s heart beats at the rhythm of blue sunrises and red sunsets in Rome, her gaze lingers on the Eternal City’s squares, on the fountains and the majestic buildings, while her hand mixes the colors and meets the canvas as the Anglo-Saxon artists did, marking with their distinctive sign the Western painting of the twentieth century. Running on the rough canvases that she prepares for painting, the brushstrokes smoothly create spaces where buildings and squares rise and expand or people who have crossed Frederika’s life find their place. Sir Lawrence Gowing, her mentor at the Slade School of Fine Arts, defined this technique as “stain painting”: she picks from a brilliant palette on which colors are identified by a sort of “spiritual” affinity and then instinctively applied on the canvas, reminescent of the great American Abstract Expressionism and Helen Frankenthaler ‘s paintings, at the same time delicate and provocative.
Her sense of space, however, is all Italian and follows in the footsteps of a glorious tradition that has seen numerous artists put themselves at the center of the world and create the Renaissance perspective, to arrive, with a bold leap in time, to the equally fundamental revolution of Spatialism that seems to tear apart Lucio Fontana’s canvases.
In de Vierno’s works, we rarely witness lyrical journeys within the self; what strongly emerges instead is the relevance of her relationship with space, whether a small English kitchen, a square in Trastevere or the New York skyline. Here depth arises from alternating the empty with the filled spaces in building structures and the stentorian solidity of shapes is built brushstroke after brushstroke, while at the center of her work lies the search for understanding what lies outside, in front of our own eyes – a search that is pursued with the goal to analyze but also joyfully celebrate what we see. The starting point are often photographs, sometimes the faded pages of an album of personal memories. This is the outline from which the artist starts to stimulate a vision that she returns to the spectator after putting it through the filter of memory, affection and fascination.
That is easily seen in the portrait of her father painted in 1985, one of her earliest works, in which the male silhouette is condensed in a few strokes or rather color spots that allow the artist to carve a solid and strong presence that is at the same time evanescent, almost as if the daughter could not, or would not, firmly set the physical traits and the personality of the father onto the canvas, but preferred to outline the pure essence, placing fugacious color spots and the volume of the walls side by side.
The creation of a gigantic space is even more successfully mastered in Kitchen window: a few exact and enclosed directives give way to an open space to outline an image that is extremely adherent to reality but also abstract in its bareness.
In the following years, as we can expected from a young woman entering the adult age, Frederika’s look gets amplified and moves from telling the stories that flow within the domestic walls – an intimate and personal stage – to taking up the large color-studded views of global metropolis. The palaces that hug in Piazza Navona are the chromatic setting in which the crossing of a truck in the morning takes the stage, the century-old ledges of Santa Maria in Trastevere shine in the orange midday light, while the Tritone fountain seems to melt into pure water and color. Only New York, thousands of miles away from Rome and its blinding light, is portrayed at night with chromatic streaks that bring to mind the fluorescent colors that fascinated so many artists of the American Pop art.
At present Federika’s art has become more self-aware, able to suffice itself. Free from the need to perfect the form of her work, that has at times accompanied the artist in creating the jolts of her baroque fountains, she now aims at pure color and at the easiest definition of shape. Brush strokes are less nervous, the paint is denser, and it all points to a more plastic and coherent space. As the pigments she uses and mixes, the color gets loud and moist, just as the dazzling light of Roman summers. If we want to find a common thread in this technical and formal growth, it would be the painter’s progression towards becoming ever more epigrammatic and abstract, embarking on a journey to completely submerge her art into those pinks and yellows that have fascinated all the artists that over the centuries have been given the chance to measure themselves with the Eternal City.
Frederika de Vierno was born in Rome in 1962 from American father and Italian mother. She graduated from highschool at the International School of Rome.
In 1981 she was admitted at the prestigious art academy Slade School of Fine Arts of the University College London and graduated in 1985 with an Honors Degree. She studied under the direction of the reknown art critic Sir Laurence Gowing who organized important shows such as the ones of Cezanne and Matisse in Paris.
She also studied under the direction of John Hoyland, Michael Moon, Bruce Mc Lean and other known English artists.
De Vierno works are in private international collections in New York, Washington D.C., Boston, New Orleans, San Diego, London, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Rome, Lima, Melbourne, Wellington and other locations throughout the world.
De Vierno currently lives in Rome.
Note for painting “Man in Car”:
“Man and Car” watercolour on canvas, (84 x 163 cm) 1985. Featured in an article by Marella Caracciolo. “Hanging Judge.” The World of Interiors, March 2015: p. 101.
Featured in an article by Marella Caracciolo. “Ville e Giardini.” June 2007 p. 99.
Frederika de Vierno