'Freya Douglas-Morris: This star I give to you' exhibition captures and enhances the magic of enchanting landscapes

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'Freya Douglas-Morris: This star I give to you' exhibition captures and enhances the magic of enchanting landscapes
Freya Douglas-Morris, Friends and lovers, 2023. Oil on canvas, 57 1/8 x 66 7/8 in. (145 x 170 cm.).

NEW YORK, NY.- Alexander Berggruen now has on view Freya Douglas-Morris: This star I give to you. This exhibition opened on Wednesday, October 18th with a reception at the gallery on Madison Avenue. Occasionally, a landscape enchants with winding vistas, fragrant aromas, the company of loved ones, and dynamic light and weather conditions. Freya Douglas-Morris captures and enhances the magic of these atmospheres, inviting one to settle down to wonder and rest with her poetic paintings. While her landscapes are often catalyzed by her encounters with real places, they become surreal and inexact as they are transformed by the painter’s memory and imagination. Through her fluid paint application, the artist’s landscapes appear to be internally illuminated, pulsing with resonant rhythmic light. In oil paintings on small framed copper panels to larger canvases, Freya Douglas-Morris: This star I give to you is an affectionate offering of tender sensations of the natural world.

The title of this exhibition arose from a gift given by Douglas-Morris’s sister to the artist’s five-year-old daughter: a star located on a map of the sky. In the winter, when only one star is visible from her daughter’s bedroom window, she asked if that was her star. Though it was unlikely, Douglas-Morris said yes, as, in the artist’s words: “What mattered was that she'd been given the idea of something, something bright, intangible, beautiful. It's similar to being given a feeling or the recollection of a memory. Paintings can do this too. The mental image remains, leaving the sentiment and memory of that experience.”

As in the titular painting in this show In the darkness of the night, this star I give to you, nondescript figures sometimes wander into Douglas-Morris’s environments. Allowing space for projection on the figures’ forms, the artist welcomes other narratives as a viewer may find meaning in how the painting relates to their own life. Reverence for her adventures as a mother, sister, daughter, friend, and lover informs how the artist renders these figures—always resting and gently interacting with one another. Inspiration from those around her also appears in oblique ways, such as in an ode to her grandmother who passed down a coral necklace and a scene based on one of her father’s sayings.

“Red at night Shepherd’s delight, red in the morning Shepherd’s warning”: her painting Shepherd's morning recalls this folklore she grew up hearing from her father that may have helped forecast the weather based on colors in the sky. The artist finds comfort in the steady understandings of the world afforded by such customs. She remains in tune with and enchanted by the colors, light, and changing conditions of her surroundings, like Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, such as Claude Monet, Pierre Bonnard, and Édouard Vuillard.

Painting primarily from memory and imagination, and uninterested in a precise account of where she’s been, the artist mixes flora often not naturally seen together and traverses a broad range of sometimes hallucinatory color palettes. The patchwork of landscapes in this show features mountains and coastlines; the sun, moon, and stars; clear and cloudy skies; and hot, cool, and rain-glossed climates. Douglas-Morris’s bold use of color punctuates the soft Matisse-like and Japanese woodblock-like forms of her sensuous facture. The fluid, fragmented, transitory nature of memory is felt in the shifting unreality within these paintings and the compilation of the works. The show’s ensemble offers excerpts of a story, presenting snapshots of narratives from an unreal time and realm in melodic polyphony.

Weather is gravid with symbolic possibilities. Where rain is suggested in her paintings After the rain, The places we go, and Shepherd's morning, one may see the calm before or after the storm, or perhaps what matters most is the environment’s slick sparkle, fresh and raw from being washed. Perhaps this is hopeful of rain bringing luscious flowers and greenery, or maybe past rain is implied in the rambling wildflowers of her painting Meadow. Alongside admiration for nature’s power and whims is this invitation for interpretation. As Douglas-Morris encouraged her daughter to connect with the lone star in the cold night, she is happy for a viewer to envision their own experiences in her paintings, inspiring them by rendering togetherness with nature and with loved ones.

This is Alexander Berggruen's first solo show with the artist following her inclusion in the gallery's group shows The Natural World: Part II (March 9-April 13, 2022) and Freya Douglas-Morris, Tom Howse, Talia Levitt (July 20-August 31, 2022) and our presentation at the Dallas Art Fair 2023, TX (April 20-23, 2023). Alexander Berggruen represents the artist.

Freya Douglas-Morris (b. 1980, London, United Kingdom) is a London-based British artist. Her paintings have been exhibited internationally in China, Taiwan, The Bahamas, Austria, Italy and France, and in America at Alexander Berggruen, NY and Dallas Contemporary Museum, Dallas, TX. In the UK, her works have been on view at Pilar Corrias, London; Arusha Gallery, Edinburgh; Lychee One Gallery, London; Saatchi Gallery, London; Newlyn Art Gallery, Cornwall, and Liverpool Biennial. She was featured in The Anomie Review of Contemporary British Painting 2 in 2021 and 100 Painters of Tomorrow in 2014. Douglas-Morris’s work is in the collection of the Dallas Museum of Art, TX.

Alexander Berggruen
Freya Douglas-Morris: This star I give to you
October 18th, 2023 - November 18th, 2023

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