Joanne Freeman: Three Chords


Folk-rocker Bob Dylan’s lyrics “All I’ve got is a red guitar, three chords and the truth” reflect the spirit and pared-down approach to art-making embraced by New York City-based Joanne Freeman. In Three Chords, Freeman exhibits a new series of oil paintings that pay homage to the formalist abstraction of Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian, and also offer a distinct contrast to the reductive nature and purity inherent in early modernist ideals. Curving and looping bands of cool red, Mediterranean blue and vivid yellow intersect and overlap in a vibratory dance. Freeman’s compositions are simple and direct. The forms that inhabit these canvases (several of which are elegantly shaped) create dynamic interactions—the hard-edged thickened lines quiver, rotate, stretch and sag. Lines flatten as if they have been pulled taut and ground the composition as they hug the edge of the picture plane.

Freeman describes her process as “a controlled approach to mark making” and often employs sign maker’s tape to mask out various areas before applying successive layers of oil. While the artist’s lines appear to be whimsical gestures they are in fact hard-edged creations. Close inspection of the curvy and slumped lines often reveal thin transparent passages of paint, the colors burnished and blotted to create varied effects.

Joanne Freeman received a B.S. in Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin and a M.A. in Studio Art from New York University. Her works have been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions including Lohin Geduld Gallery, NYC; Elizabeth Harris Gallery, NYC; Marc Jancou Gallery, Zurich, Switzerland; The Painting Center, NYC; and the Queens Museum.

Three Chords , 2013
Cyptich-oil on shaped canvas
Courtesy of the artist