Barbara Friedman: Alpträume

exhibition dates: April 24 - May 19, 2012

reception: April 26, 6 - 8 pm


In Barbara Friedman’s new paintings, alpine traumas exist as little bubbles of figuration within color-field abstractions. Hence the show’s title Alpträume, German for “nightmares.” Another name for the series might have been the first line from a poem of Emily Dickinson’s: Our lives are Swiss,— So still, so cool, Till, some odd afternoon, The Alps neglect their curtains, And we look farther on. Italy stands the other side, While, like a guard between, The solemn Alps, The siren Alps, Forever intervene! Several movies, half-remembered, also haunt these pieces. Guy Madden’s Careful, where the residents of an Alpine village whisper for fear that their voices could set off an avalanche; Alain Tanner’s Messidor, in which two gun-toting teenage girls hitchhike through a pristine Swiss landscape; The Boat is Full, Markus Imhoof’s picture of an insular Switzerland restricting Jewish immigration during World War II. Other references include the Leonardo drawing "Storm in the Alps,” James Baldwin’s essay “Stranger in the Village” in which he describes his experience in a Swiss village, “The Mountain,” a painting by Balthus prominently positioned at the Met, Johanna Spyri’s nineteenthcentury novel Heidi – and Friedman’s Swiss mother’s own childhood in Switzerland, partly a pastoral bubble and mostly a vast abstraction.