Expressions of creativity through network of lines
Lines can be of million kind. Quality of lines portrays the quality of painting. Line powers creation of forms or figures. Eventually lines say lot about artist and his or her work. Here we have an artist who speaks her own visual language with collections of numerous lines. Line are her way of expressing any given subject matter. Lines are her pillar of creative strength. Meet a Solothurn born, Kanton Zurich based Swiss abstract painter - Esti Frei.
Esti’s works are beautiful gathering of unlimited amount of sensitive and feminine lines that are criss crossing from one edge to the other edge of the canvas. They are seamlessly flowing and floating every direction like white clouds. They connect at a point and disconnect in another. They keep meeting new lines while forming togetherness of meaningful network. Those lines are thin and thick, straight and meandering, wiggling and dribbling, fragile and strong. Some time they are vanishing and reappearing. If you keep looking at them deeper, they appear as they are uttering some haiku. They are at times like poems. At the same time, they reveal unique stories. But interestingly they have spiritual quality to them and may drive one into the quiet space and help touch the inner core.
Esti’s life as an artist started forming in her childhood. Her grandmother would inspire her to paint or draw something or anything whenever she would feel bored. Eventually painting become her most favorite subject. However, she could not study art when she grew up as there was no art school in her native Kanton Solothurn. As the time passed by, she ended up completing commercial apprenticeship and moved to Zurich as she fell in love.
In Zurich her career took unexpected shape. Initially she got a job as editorial secretary with a large family publication. Later she was promoted as editorial assistant and even she went on to become the editor. However, over few years of working as journalist she started realizing that it is not the future, she wishes to live. In fact, she started drawn towards her heart’s calling - the Fine Art. When she was just turned thirty years old she decided to quit everything and join Arts and crafts school in Zurich. There she studied painting for three years with well acclaimed teachers like Arnold Klee, Ursula Somaini and Verena Eigenmann. Working with these two acclaimed artists and art teachers Esti empowered herself to begin a journey of her own as an artist.
Her work process is very laborious and distinctly different than a conventional process. She initially starts off with sketches on tiny card format. She meaninglessly draws and bring out network, networking mesh and make them symbolically power for her work. Later she scratch the lines wet or dry with a knife or pencil on the painting surfaces. She doesn’t work on canvas, instead her paintings are largely based on solid wooden surface. She works exclusively with oil paints, which she mostly applies with her hands as she doesn't use a brush or thinner. “The irregular application of paint allows to create different shades and tones of colors, and also create unevenness, gloss or matt areas, that forms as important part of my compositions,” she explains.
According to her, “a net is the connection of many individual threads that are knotted together to form a unit without hiding the view into the interior. Countless such lines or threads, some of which have almost disappeared due to the overhaul, create a network that holds together, preserves, protects, becomes dense and firm,” she describes her methodology.
Playing with too many colors or splashing colors on the given space are not her thing. She mostly prefers minimalistic and monochromatic color applications. “Painting in black and white is my greatest satisfaction,” she exclaims. If one look at Esti’s works, it is quite visible that she has her own unique style and technique of expressions and depictions in terms of managing the space and composition. She also loves to challenger herself while finding her own way to manage them and ensure not to let others influence her creations.
In recent times, which is also impacted by Corona Pandemic, her study with Arnold Klee of portraiture and figurations are suddenly started appearing in her works. In her new series titled ‘Encounters’ she started composing figures as floating, transitional, shadowy forms. Although, she applied figurative elements in her paintings, her compositions predominately remain as abstract in their nature.
Today, soft spoken and gentle soul, Esti traveled almost 40 years on her chosen path with great consistency and discipline. During this period, she created several body of works dedicated to various but specific topics. She pursued her dream with conviction and perseverance and evolved as a finest artist. She humbly feels fortunate that her works are being exhibited and collected by art lovers. Her journey of exhibitions started way back in 1991 with Elfi Borer from the GG gallery in Bonstetten, Zurich. Since then she had several exhibitions in Switzerland and abroad to her credit, of which many have become part of private and public collections.
(Copyright 2021, Deviprasad C Rao. Author is an Artist, Curator, Writer & Artist Facilitator. Founder of Devamitra Artists Collective based in Zurich, Switzerland. He can be reached through this website www.deviprasad.com)