In her colourful paintings, Johanna Freise unfolds image scenarios that are unflinchingly honest. In the manner of film stills, her pictures present graceful self-reflections bearing witness to a very fine sense of all things human. The artist’s interior and exterior landscapes, fraught with symbolism, open doors on to our inadequacies, our deepest abysses or desires. In their extraordinary directness, they also remind us of the early experimental films of the Surrealist avant-garde. Composition and perspective frequently borrow from the imagery of comics, a medium that Freise also resorted to for a short film she won numerous prizes for. Kurzes Leben (2008) consists of thousands of highly skilled drawings produced over a period of more than four years. The storyboard was based on a comic created in 1998. The paintings presented now hark back to this painstaking film production and the artist’s intensive confrontation with the medium of drawing. Irrespective of the clarity of their imagery, Johanna Freise’s pictures do not disclose their full meaning at first glance, but demand observers who take their time and are prepared to let themselves in for what is beneath the surface.
In 2003, Johanna Freise won the jury at the Georg Eisler Award over “by the originality of the imagery as well as the sheer excitement of the painting.” In 2008, her much-decorated short film Kurzes Leben was presented at Galerie Elisabeth und Klaus Thoman in Innsbruck, and shortly afterwards shown on the occasion of New Talents at Art Cologne as well as at numerous European film festivals. Freise, born in Kiel in 1961, studied painting in the master classes of Maria Lassnig and Christian Ludwig Attersee. She now lives and works in Vienna.