Fritzie Brown

At the exhibition titled (Not)Temporary, staged by the National Museum of Modern Art at the Josip Račić Gallery from 13 February to 10 March, the cultural audience in Zagreb will have the opportunity to get reacquainted with the work of visual American artist Fritzie Brown after twenty years. She is an artist who, having worked for decades at Artslink in New York , fostered cultural exchange between Eastern Europe and the United States, collaborating with numerous Croatian artists as well. Croatian art audience will also remember Fritzie Brown for her two monochromatically restrained installations presented at the Recitativo exhibition in the Miroslav Kraljević Gallery in 2002. According to Branko Franceschi, the director of the National Museum of Modern Art and former head of the Miroslav Kraljević Gallery, with those works, the artist showcased her skill in the evocative transformation of the motif that captures the magical world around us and the trauma of intimacy. Fritzie Brown’s interest in working with art installation and multimedia has since shifted towards fundamental visual techniques. According to the curator of the exhibition, Branko Franceschi, at the Josip Račić Gallery exhibition, the artist presents herself as a sophisticated colourist with a distinct feeling for tactile values, skilled in execution and economical in the technical aspect of the medium. Around twenty recent works selected for this occasion were created in 2022 and 2023 in Manhattan and at the estate in upstate New York, and executed in traditional visual disciplines such as watercolour, gouache, mixed media, collage on paper and canvas, together with a series of coloured figures executed in glazed stoneware and one photograph. (…) Two works in the exhibition were selected for their complementary contrast to the formal visual elaborations that exhaust the painterly aspect of the exhibition. The first refers to the acceptance of the realisation of transience, both personal and undoubtedly artistic and cosmic. At the moment of retiring from active professional participation in the cultural scene, Fritzie Brown had the word temporary tattooed on her left forearm in a delicate font. This performative gesture of body art is, in fact, an appropriation of the concept of New York theatre artist Steve Cosson, highlighting Fritzie Brown’s affiliation with a generation where body art was conceived as a manifestation of intellectual and existential resistance to the destructive entanglement of the art market and the traditionally understood art object and, creativity accentuating the process of execution itself, embracing its truthful, disinterested potentials, seen as the ultimate and essentially human activity in which the subject identifies with the object in content, performance, and duration. If this appropriated performative gesture in the exhibition represents a philosophical extreme in relation to the central group of displayed artworks, at the opposite pole is a group of figurines that open up the realm of personal memories. Crafted in glazed stoneware and titled Father Figure: 5 Poor Examples, the figurines, utilising the customary format and technique of ornamental statuettes typical for decorating bourgeois households, reference the artist’s experience of growing up in a sequence of dysfunctional families where the only constant was mother although unrepresented within the group. Deviation from realistic depiction, feigning imprecise modelling and colouring in shaping the figurines in a kind of paraphrase of a child’s handwriting, suggests both the incompleteness and the inexorable presence of formative memories. They linger in the subconscious as representations, and the artist’s need to confront them is resolved by introducing them into the objective reality of the creative body of work, where the artist becomes the person in control. (…) – Branko Franceschi, from the essay in the accompanying exhibition catalogue.

Translated by: Robertina Tomić
Images: Fritzie Brown
Beast / Self Portrait, 2023/ watercolor and collage / 55,8 x 45,7 cm / Photo: Jan Baracz
Temporary, Tattoo / concept: Steve Cosson / ink work: Bang Bang Studios / Photo: Goran Vranić, NMMU
Fufu’s Special Potato, 2022 / acrylic, bubble wrap,currency on wood panel 18 x 23 cm / Photo: Jan Baracz

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