Katrin Fridriks and Jan Kaláb collaborate on paintings on view at Venice Biennale

Painting is a notoriously individual pursuit. Long hours spent alone. The creative collaborations which fuel songwriting and music and performance are mostly absent from the visual arts.

Katrin Fridriks (b. 1974; Reykjavik, Iceland), and Jan Kaláb (b. 1978; Prague, Czechoslovakia) have broken from this soloist tradition, uniting on a new series of paintings with dazzling results. Movement and color rule in the duo’s “PERFECT STORM,” artworks on view now at the European Cultural Centre in Venice, Italy through November 24, 2024, in alignment with the Venice Art Biennale.

Fridriks and Kaláb’s friendship and working relationship grew from a realization they shared a mutual admiration for each other’s work as well as a number of the same collectors. The idea took flight during a dual show for the pair hosted at BC Gallery in Basel, Switzerland.

“We felt that our opposite, yet complementary styles could merge interestingly,” Kaláb said. “Collaborating with Katrin, whose approach is so different from mine, was particularly appealing because it promised to push the boundaries of what we could each do individually.”

Fridriks is an abstract painter exploring speed, gravity, and the interactions of human beings with the forces of nature. Her artistic work focuses on the exploration of natural phenomena and the limits of human dexterity. Kaláb’s creative roots are based in graffiti, street art, and murals; his work has evolved to painting, sculpture, and 3-D graffiti.

“I greatly admire Katrin’s ability to capture movement and emotion in her splash paintings,” Kaláb said. “There’s a certain freedom and unpredictability in her work that’s very compelling. Her use of color and form is spontaneous yet very intentional, which brings a vibrant energy to her art that I find fascinating.”

Katrin Fridriks and Jan Kaláb, '3 Atlanteans Thunderstorm,' (2024), 100 x 120 cm, detail.
Katrin Fridriks and Jan Kaláb, ‘3 Atlanteans Thunderstorm,’ (2024), 100 x 120 cm, detail. Courtesy of BC Gallery.

In producing the work, the pair took turns starting each painting. Artworks were shipped back and forth between their studios – the south of France for Fridriks and Prague for Kaláb – each building upon the others progress, until achieving a consensus on when a piece was finished.

“A piece was considered complete when both of us felt that it resonated with the energy and balance we aimed to achieve, where adding anything more would detract from what was already there,” Kaláb said.

The result was a series of works neither could have produced individually, paintings enriched by their combined perspectives and talents.

“Collaboration in visual arts can be challenging as it requires a deep level of trust and the willingness to let go of total control over the work. However, when done right, it can lead to incredible innovation and exploration that isn’t always achievable alone,” Kaláb said. “Collaborating with Katrin allowed me to explore new depths and techniques I might not have tried on my own. Her spontaneous, fluid style contrasted with my more structured approach, pushing both of us to explore and adapt.”

Kaláb and Fridriks’ electric collaboration is presented by BC Gallery as part of the group show, “Personal Structures – Beyond Boundaries.” The show documents the diversity of contemporary art in today’s world, featuring and combining different expressions from over 200 visual artists, galleries, photographers, sculptors, institutions, and universities, breaking away from any ideological, political. and geographical barriers.

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