Patricia G. Berman
Rachel Friedberg's encaustic photocollages from 1980-1981 are poetic and sometimes ironic exchanges between intimate experience and the rigorous language of geometric abstraction. Friedberg recounts her response to the New York art scene at the time: "I saw lots of exhibitions, and I was excited by much of what I saw. Yet there was a denial of the personal then, a revulsion against anything overtly personal. I felt the need to make something personal in my art, to allow what was 'real' to come out.'" Her photocollages - dense fields of dark wax, embedded with black and white photographic fragments and self-negating systems of measure - mediate between "objective" markers of reality and her interior, personal experience. Like her more recent encaustic works, Friedberg's photocollages are sites of encounter that invite, and then subvert, easy interpretation.
This series of works represents Friedberg's initial foray into encaustic. With her background in collage and assemblage, Friedberg discovered encaustic after exploring a number of media in the 1970s, including, successively, torn paper compositions, assemblages encased in black leather, and painting on steel panels.