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Philippe Ducat


Maike Freess has an unquestionable asset, she draws like she breathes. Without hesitating in the slightest. In her works on paper, all is well that ends well, always. Everything seems so easy. Eveything gets organised, gracefully and naturally, like an ecosystem in a clearing. She does not overdo her talent, which is the worst mistake an artist can make in order to show off, it is a flaw that characterises someone who is gifted, and insists on showing how amazingly well they can draw. Maike Freess was born and raised in German culture, so unsurprisingly, her culture is deeply Germanic, and has pervaded her works for a long time. Except that there is a tendency to believe that the internationalisation of art, through Sotheby's or Christie's, has abolished particular territorial features. It is a simplistic way to make silly people think that contemporary art has contaminated everything. The Germanic Maike Freess uses expressionism, she also has a liking for exaggerated strokes, and for the art of caricature and extraversion. These characteristics can be compared to those of renowned modern predecessors, such as Max Beckmann during his engraved period of Adam and Eve, Erich Heckel, Otto Dix, Unica Zürn or Hans Bellmer. Or, even closer to us, to the more recent works of Georg Baselitz. The comparison could be worse, although it would be less noisy. Her use of colours in homoeopathic doses definitely defines her as an illustrator. Although she could very well suprise us once again and, sooner or later, produce paintings. Her black strokes are sometimes enhanced, but on the lowest possible level. The latest works shown in this exhibition do not waive this objective reflection, to say the least. And one cannot fail to notice that Maike Freess does not lower her guard. If one may use a phrase that is rarely used in theory and aesthetics, she is bloody impressive. Besides, it is so overactive that the very characters, put down on paper by the artist, give life to other creatures drawn on their bodies, through either tatoos or visual extension of their rather tormented thoughts. Nothing is ever really quiet in Maike Freess's crazy representations. One of the keys of Maike Freess's art may also be found in the art of the insane. This time, she transports us in the Gothic and re-emergent universe of Hans Baldung Grien and Mathias Grünewald. First, she does so thanks to collective and dreamed visions, and their shared passion for the expressiveness of engraved strokes and their hypersensitive power. Then finally, for their style that is so "Northern School", with white drawing on dark backgrounds, an uncommon technique in a very orthonormal era. The notable difference between these artists of the 14th and 15th centuries and Maike Freess, is that drawings were seen as studies during one period, only to become autonomous art later on. The result is the same, how delightful! Now finally, let us not talk about brilliance when it comes to Maike Freess, thank you. Selling their brilliance is the worst curse for an artist. Because it is what fossilizes things and destroys creation. It is what makes everything sterile. Is there anything worse than hiding behind a circus animal, the one that performs double back-flips while juggling blindfolded with crystal glasses on a camel's back. That kind of art either ends up at the Académie des Beaux-arts, or in the boredom of endless repetition. You may tell me, quite rightly, that both are possible. Thank God Maike Freess doesn’t stop.


* Drawn by Maike Freess

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