The scenes seem taken from an alien world.
Paintings and pastels of quaint houses, city streetscapes and skylines are done in outrageous, bombastic color. Pinks, oranges and turquoise blues crackle with electricity.
Artist Suzy Friedman had always leaned toward more realistic representations. But in recent years, her work has evolved to use color and form to be expressionist.
“I like the happiness of the color, the intensity of it,” she said.
Friedman’s collection of pastels, mosaics and oil paintings is showing at IUPUI’s Cultural Arts Gallery.
The Indianapolis-based artist has based most of her career on painting landscapes on site, capturing the images that catch her attention on canvas right when she sees them.
She has done a variety of scenes, including the grounds of the Lilly House at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the iconic Old Crescent on Indiana University’s campus.
Painting in the early morning or late afternoon, she’s discovered that captivating, otherworldly colors present themselves more.
“When the light hits a house or anything, it’s more intense in the early part of the day or end of the day,” she said. “I like to set up.”
Friedman also creates works of Judaica, or Jewish arts, such as wedding ketubahs, Torah mantles and ark curtains. But the exhibit showing at IUPUI is focused entirely on her pastels, oil paintings and mosaics.
The exhibit will be on display through June 14 in the IUPUI gallery, 420 University Blvd., Indianapolis. The gallery is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.
How did you get on this track of expressionist painting?
I think that I was doing more plein air painting outside, painting in the elements. I was painting on-site. But I wanted more of an intensity of feeling in them, and the only way to do that was to remain true to the drawing of what it was that I was looking at and experiment with more intensity of color.
This is a big step for me, because I’ve always been more of a realist. Then I got a little freer, and it led to the new expression of color that I’m doing now.
Who inspired your use of color?
I’m very inspired by Edward Hopper and the way he looks at the same thing. Now that I’m doing it, I can see why he liked it.
How did you get started in mosaic work?
What I do, I’ll do a plein air painting of the site, then translate it into glass.
I have to do a painting in order to do a mosaic. And I do them as fine art, not as a so-called craft. My theory is that if you can paint or draw, you can do about anything.
That’s the bones of everything, understanding drawing and understanding painting. I figured, how hard could it be to translate that to glass, to put something together? I started doing it because someone asked me to teach it. I figured it out, did it and started doing some design.
That didn’t excite me, but when I started taking my paintings and translating it to glass, that did.
That was a challenge, not only in which color to choose but also which shape to use.
How long does it take?
Everyone always asks me that. It’s difficult to tell. My studio is at home, and I end up setting up and staying up there for six or seven hours.
Then I’ll wake up right in the middle of the night and start working some more. I kind of get obsessed.
So I don’t know how much total time, but hours and hours. Each piece is individually cut to fit each space, each color is chosen for that particular spot. It’s a very, very long process.