When I recall a very pleasant vacation memory, I find it difficult to fix my mind on specific visual memories. Instead, images float in, out, over and around scenes in my mind, creating a general impression of the moment rather than a photographically realistic recollection. Viewing Sam Friedman’s show, “Beach,” I sense he is doing just that: capturing the memory of solace and leisure in intersecting vignettes on the canvas.
The largest painting in the show is “Sammy’s Girl,” a mammoth work that covers a wall along the back of the gallery. The images are rendered in a graphic way that seems to reference the 80’s. Friedman’s vivid color choices really bring his works to life. A buxom lady reclines on the right side of the porch and grabs your attention. She seems to be seated, but there is no chair visible.
The sun is setting and it looks like a gentle rain is falling. A lobster dinner rests on a table but the perspective is skewed so it appears to tilt toward the viewer. The detail on the table and the wood grain of the porch is almost surreal. Everything seems to burst from the canvas, exuberant in the color, light and shape of things.
Friedman uses the paint liberally, building layer over layer to create scenes with great depth. Wiggly lines in “Oh, No!” create a pattern that is hypnotic and reminiscent of the optical illusion “hidden picture” books I used to fascinate myself with when I was young. The painting reminds me of a reflection of moonlight on water and has a soothing feel. The title of this painting adds some mystery though. I am not seeing the reason for the exclamation, but I am very curious about it. It may be a playful reference to Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” which would be fitting because the painting, in its eerie reflections on the water, seems to visually echo that work.
Friedman’s contrast of textures and movement is pleasing. My eyes jog around the canvases excitedly absorbing the various patterns. A recurring theme in Friedman’s paintings is a sort-of amorphous line that intersects the field of vision, as seen in “Broken Rock.” These lines cut across the expected scene and are surprising. They add a sense of intrigue to the works and I wonder if Friedman is referencing the way that memory can be fickle and changes with time.
“Beach” will be on display at Space 1026 until March 30th. More information can be found by visiting the gallery’s website. All images courtesy of Space 1026.