"Watches and Clocks"
November 4 - December 20, 2015
Kerry Schuss is pleased to present an exhibition of drawings and paintings by Freddie Brice (1920-1998). This is the third solo exhibition at the gallery of this recognized outsider artist who lived and worked in New York City. Brice's works here made in the early 1990's are drawn and painted in mainly black and white with an urban minimalism and immediacy. They reduce complex forms and groupings to their graphic essence, interchanging black and white and positive and negative. This show focuses on paintings and drawings of clocks and watches. They tell of Brice's preoccupations with the material qualities of timepieces. Watches and clocks were a kind of bling for Brice, as well as with representations of formal, abstract and spiritual notions about time.
One painting of a watch has on its reverse side a painting of a long-haired and generously bearded Jesus, which introduces another conception of time - one of cosmic significance. As contemporary artists and curators continue to look at outsider art for inspiration, Brice's work with its reductive imagery and raw direct style finds a renewed relevance in artwork being made today.
Freddie Brice was born in Charleston, South Carolina in 1920, and at age 9 moved to Harlem, where later he spent much of his time at the Apollo Theater, a fan of acts such as: Diana Washington, Chuck Webb and the Ink Spots to name a few. Brice held numerous jobs including an elevator operator, a laundry worker and most importantly at the Brooklyn Navy Shipyard, where he painted ships. After a long history of incarceration and institutionalization he started making paintings in 1983 at an art workshop on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. In 1991 Brice's work was featured in the exhibition "Art's Mouth" at Artists Space curated by Connie Butler. Freddie Brice's work is in the collections of: The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Milwaukee Museum of Art and The Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia. Additionally Brice's work has been exhibited at The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center, Williamsburg, VA and Milwaukee Museum of Art, Milwaukee WI.
Below is an excerpt from video of the artist at work, "Freddie Brice Paints Two Paintings", which was made in 1990 by Les LeVeque & Kerry Schuss. In this video, while demonstrating his rhythmic painting style, he sings and speaks in a poetic verse about painting, hobbies and life.
"It's in my way of drawin'. It's in my conscious of drawin'. It's in my mind. It became to be lovely to me. It became to be likely to me. Why, I like it more than I like anything else. I think it's a hobby. You know, speaking about a hobby. A hobby is a true thing ... When you begin to love something; when you begin to do something, a constructive, something that you like and love, it becomes a hobby. It becomes regular. It becomes continuously. It becomes outrageous. It becomes magnificent. It becomes to be something that you like to do for a hobby. And I like to do drawing for a hobby. I like to do drawing because I get understanding of what I'm doing. It gives me understanding of talking. It gives me understanding of books. It gives me understanding of drawing and hearing what I listen to. It gives me time, it gives me patience and it also gives me ability. Ability is when you gain what you're doing, and when you get enough of it you begin to have rehability, rehabiliteality of what you're doing. It becomes a whole lot to you. Drawing is rehabiliteality to me. I began to do it often and I began to do it much. And it's ability. It's rehabiliteality of what I love. And it's a hobby.
- Freddie Brice, New York City 1990
"Freddie Brice Paints Two Paintings" 1990 by Les LeVeque and Kerry Schuss