The very surfaces of Friedberg’s work nourish the play of memory. Figures and objects are there and not there at once. As if they are not sure they belong. In fact, Friedberg says she feels like an outsider, that this has always been true. As a child, because she was a Sephardic Jew, she didn’t know whose side she was on in her Italian and Ashkenazic-Jewish neighborhood. The Ashkenazis caller her “Turk.” She knew she wasn’t Italian. As in Proust, pain is etched into these paintings, like the thin bodies stretched long on benches - pronounced, the psyche spilling out, yet evanescent. Like life. Live love.
Friedberg says she “writes” her thoughts in her paintings. So did Paul Klee, Nancy Spero, and Joan Snyder. But differently. This painter loved Dostoyevsky as a girl, but now never reads fiction; she needs emotion for her painting, she says. One can understand why. She turns to biographies of Giacometti, Kahlo, Picasso, Rothko.
Narrative is not quite the word for Friedberg’s images; they are more markings, soundings. Her words are her lines. Her writing surface is as flat as Klee’s or Miro’s. That is, not perfectly flat. Robert Goldwater, the eminent American art historian, called this ambiguous location dream space. Its depth comes and goes. One draws upon it, but one also burrows into it and disappears. That tenuousness is a crucial aspect of Friedberg’s paintings and her stories.