Johan Myburg on the 2008 Fried Contemporary Exhibition

From an early life as a child Lance Friedlande has always been fascinated (and mesmerized) by painting. He had an uncle and an aunt, Kenneth Bakker and Bernadine Biden, who instilled in the young Friedlande an awareness of painting, of the qualities of paint and moreover: a life with paint. These two people he regards as the earliest influence on his own artistic career.

After Years of “selling his soul” in a career in business Friedlande returned to painting and specifically the exploration of the painterly qualities of oil, colour and technique. In his own novel way he grappled with these aspects and came up with his own form of expressing landscape and the human figure. In this exploration Friedlande studied amongst others the work of other artists – especially the work of De Kooning and Bacon.

His last solo show was last year at Gordart in Johannesburg.

The new work in show today is a perpetuation of his constant exploration and effort to push the limits. A while ago the mere thought of monotypes would have been far fetched. But he did some graphic work recently at David Krut in Johannesburg and surprised himself at how much he enjoyed the process and working on paper. Always open to new possibilities and always keen to take risks, this printmaking experience has proved to be a new point of departure in his work

Friedlande’s landscapes with figured are evocative scenes – celebrating the South African landscape with acacias and curved horizons – but more than this. He depicts a specific tension, something of which the viewer was vaguely aware of but could not pinpoint. Studying his work one recognizes aspects of instability in the landscape; in the relationship between people (Race Day and The two Faces of Fate) or in the way people are dealing with and in their surroundings. It is the body language (or the secret language of the body) that Friedlande manages to portray the tenderness of the unspoken and the unspeakable. And the manifestation of tension.

Friedlandes world is not flat, is not even. His figures live in a world that could destabilize them instantly. They could fall off at any time. They inhabit a fragile world. Living aware of their own fragility. (Greek in Decline).

Whereas Friedlande has shown in previous work his skill of painting skin and flesh, with this exhibition he reiterates his ability to play with temperature. His use of colour (and he is not scared of using colour) raises the temperature in his work – creating a sense of a hostile environment or adding to the inner turmoil of the figures inhabiting the landscape.

His work is meticulous yet not overworked. He maintains a remarkable balance between the painted surface and what lies behind the applied paint. As if the artist allows the viewer something of the process, something of what is not said. In doing this Friedlande’s work gain a palimpsest quality. Nothing is simple. Nothing is legible at face value alone. There is a layer of meaning. And meaning is always instable

What Friedlande does is to “interrogate the opposing forces of balance and disorder” and to offer us his “search for the elusive moment when the painting comes together in disorientated harmony”