One of two 30 foot triptychs commenced with the fervid inspiration of the city, an ode noted in scale, and was completed after the artist’s American citizenship was granted. Titled, "DTLA As the Garden of Earthly Delights," its bright colors cut through and vindicate the dark, gritty imagery of homelessness, culture, gender, politics, spirituality and all that Los Angeles has come to embrace between its historic architecture. Recalling the melting abstractions of Francis Bacon and allegorical sensibilities of Hieronymus Bosch, Freeman examines the here and now with her tempestuous brushstrokes, layered with a myriad of paints.
With her affinity for large format works, Freeman challenged herself with the first three panel triptych while residing in Australia, awaiting her Visa. The original inspiration for the work lent its title, "The Garden of Earthly Delights." Cultivated on the epochs of birth, life and death, Freeman tangles the human form following its curves through a pushing and pulling whereby the Yin and Yang are found at every edge. Just as in nature, the vivid, raw elements within us as humans, are awakened throughout these various stages.
At the time of her move to the United States the artist witnessed a deeper dive than more into the political climate that permeates our world today. Freeman reveals the voice of first hand experience with her series, Emperor’s Collection, while shifting her own response into the hands of the viewer for further interpretation.
Straying from her usual focus of abstraction through line or form alone, Freeman sought to distill a narrative by way of archetypal imagery and her striking colour palette. She references the allegoric childhood fairy tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes” demonstrating the differences between illusion and reality.
The mythology of Los Angeles has survived decades of glory and glamour whilst concealing a much darker, livelier and honest self. Upon settling into downtown LA, Freeman noticed every detail and every individual that collectively compose the ecosystem she now calls home. Actors, gang members, musicians, homeless and business people alike remap our streets, painting the town different colours - but what do they look like all together?
As part of an ongoing project, the City Paintings are Freeman’s way of answering this question. Wanting to capture her version of LA, the artist recognized that it could never be separate from another’s experience, particularly in the downtown neighborhoods that she lives and works in. Her paintings embrace the juxtaposition of beauty and struggle with crumbling buildings and explosive growth. This diabolical mixture recalls the Greeks, their own tragedy, and fights to lace the surface of any Los Angeles experience with a newfound appreciation.
Kaye Freeman paints to convey. Her canvases are conduits for the transfusion of emotions, ideas, states of being. They are the bone and gristle of what it is to be one among billions on earth. Each brush stroke and field of color is a direct expression of the artist’s self, and when we gaze at her arrangements of tone and form we see the artist, and ourselves, and the countless more with whom we live.
Freeman’s devastating 2012 “Floating Worlds” exhibition in Melbourne revealed an artist caught in a universe of unbearable clarity described in monotone save for a few silken whispers of color washing over but never softening her graphite and lead white drawings of grief, loss and darkness.
Fast forward to early 2016. Freeman visits the Joshua Tree National monument with her sketch book and a handful of crayons. Weeks later, in a tempest of creative activity she conceived “The Joshua Series," an ensemble of large canvases that can barely contain Freeman’s tumultuous cosmos of layered shapes, unabashed color, and her unwavering quest for perfect composition. In these works the desolate landscape, limitless light, and monolithic formations of Joshua Tree are plunged into the crucible of Freeman’s razor eye and unerring technique. There they are reduced, cleansed and abstracted into pure forms, lines and colors. They become the intuitive symbols and totems describing the artist’s personal journey from darkness to light, despair to joy, indifference to unbridled passion.
“Joshua” is the artist’s deepest dive into abstraction. Yet, despite the mystical code of color and light that Freeman has etched, stroked and teased into each canvas, our human appetite for narrative is still satisfied, though not by looking left to right or up and down. Two dimensions are not enough for Freeman. That is why, in order to read the visual poems that are the Joshua Series, one must look deeper, past the surface to the layers beneath, and eventually to the human substrate, upon which we are all painted.