Katrin Fridriks

A vital warning against environmental disaster, the viscid lustre of Katrin Fridriks’ work is as raw and ferocious as the concepts she draws from.

Fridriks’ paintings erupt, stretch and fold like a hot spill of lava. Her inky, multi-coloured abstract forms are created with thick mixes of acrylic that are dripped, thrown and spun onto large canvases using a plethora of techniques that Fridriks has developed and refined over the past decade. Shifting the weight of her body with swift and decisive motion, Fridriks’ controlled spontaneity has the sharp design and explosive dynamism of the landscapes of her home country, Iceland.

  • Works in collections inc. Jeremy Rocher Private Art Collection, Ron Dennis Private Art Collection, Christian Courtin-Clarins Private Art Collection, Taittinger Private Art Collection, Palais Benedictine, Fecamp, Reykjavik Art Museum
  • Solo show, Grey Area at JD Mallet Gallery, London, 2019
  • Cover art for Liquids by Pr. Mark Miodowniu, published by Penguin Random House, winner of Royal Science Book Award, 2018
  • Solo show, Waste at Circle Culture, Berlin, 2018
  • Commission Graffiti by Pierre Berge & Ad Gallizia at Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2013

While her paintings share qualities with Abstract Expressionism, Fridriks’ practice has conceptual depth beyond the canvas. A study of movement, the environment, biology, gravity, speed and technology, the keen and socially engaged intellect of Fridriks’ work is as vibrant as the formal innovation of her paintings. 

"I think art and science, like magic or religion, are all branches of the same tree. They all aim at the pursuit of truth"

The earth is an important symbol in Fridriks’ work. Her concern for climate change permeates her oeuvre but crystallises most pointedly in her land art. Emotional Landscape is a rare work of jaded beauty that, made of human cultivated farmland, uses its subject as its material. With a clear debt to pioneers such as Nancy Holt and Agnes Denes, as well as Christo and Jeanne-Claude, the 150 metre-squared land installation is made of red and white hay bales stretched across the Icelandic countryside. The bales are carefully dotted across the lush green grass with the compulsive order of a Soviet Olympic Ceremony or Fascist Parade. The red hay bails form a line across the work that functions as a bold and simple metaphor representing humankind’s ceaseless exploitation of the earth’s resources and creating a majestic and thought-provoking work of art. 

"Everything is a question of balance between my instinct and accepting the fact that my materials work in mysterious ways"

Fridriks’ paintings are concerned with the infinitely large and the infinitely small in both nature and technology. While they could be cross-sections of the earth’s geological strata, they also hold the microscopic complexity of the cell or vein of a plant. The stark separation between each colour, along with a palette of burnished metallics, frequently collapse into representational echoes of cybernetic creatures or ghostly satellite maps.


In this way, technology feels omnipresent in the work and, like nature’s designs, evokes systems of power on micro and macro levels: technological warfare, geographical tracking and progressive green technologies through to the ordinariness of technology in our daily lives. Like Jackson Pollock canvases for a digital age, Fridriks’ works have a quiet violence and urgent hope that is as powerful, dense and dynamic as her explosive painterly gesture.

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