by Linda Nochlin
Rachel Friedberg's "White Paintings" follow on several other series by this distinguished artist: the early encaustic photocollages of 1980 - 1981; the "Encaustics and Drawings" of 1993 and "From My Mother's Garden" of 1995. Each group of works is marked by identifying characteristics. The whiteness of Rachel Friedberg's most recent series is surely a reference to mortality; yet at the same time it evokes the uncharted antarctica of the unconscious, those memories trapped and frozen beneath the surface of reality like flies in amber. The whiteness is not uninflected: far from it. The pale encaustic surfaces are delicately marked with mysterious textures - striations, whorls, tracks - which bring them to life, transform the inert panels into palpitating integuments ready for action. These are the ghost planks for the formal staging of trauma, of forgotten insults to spirit and flesh, drawn out in a plangent, austere geometry. The precision of the graffiti deployed on the white surfaces is at once luminous and self-contradictory; drawing and color are both reduced to their absolute minimum and thereby attain their maximum degree of evocation.