The highly talented Mexican designer/artist, Pedro Friedeberg, has established himself as an outstanding creator of art, sculpture and surrealistic furnishings that puts your imagination into an artistic zone overrun with creativity and irreverence. His work is rampant with purposeful humor and infusions of absurdity. His anthropomorphic inanimate objects seem like they might start dancing and singing if someone were to turn on the music.
To begin to wrap your brain around the source of his creative spirit just read part of his artist statement posted on his internet site : “I have invented several styles of architecture, as well as one religion and two new salads…For me, the house and it’s objects is supposed to be some crazy place that makes you laugh…I am an idealist. I am certain that very soon now humanity will arrive at a marvelous epoch totally devoid of Knoll chairs, jogging pants, tennis shoes and baseball caps sideway use, and the obscenity of Japanese rock gardens five thousand miles from Kyoto.”
Friedeberg was born in Florence, Italy of German-Jewish heritage and moved with his mother to Mexico to escape fascism. There he studied architecture and fell under the influence of a group of artists that believed in producing what might be called “anti-art.” They were known as Los Hartos (The Fed Up) and they denied the necessity of functionality and reality.
The furnishings and art of Pedro Friedeberg offer up something that is not for those who demand functionalism and predictability. Friedeberg creates pieces that defy sensibility on one hand and on the other are replete with humor and imagination. His highly original style has been widely accepted around the world since he began producing his furniture and paintings in the 1960’s with it’s “anti-art for art’s sake” attitude.
Perhaps the most famous piece of furniture designed by Friedeberg is the Hand Chair. It has been executed in everything from polished wood to gold leaf. You must be smiling about the concept of sitting your rear end down on an over sized hand. Sorry to say, rumor has it that the chair is stunning to look at but not high on the comfort scale.
Friedeberg has a comical approach to his furnishings. His goal, aside from making you wonder what inspired his creativity, is to actually make you laugh. His “Silla Mariposa” is not only a colorful butterfly, but also one with four golden feet. Here you see his combination of beauty with absurdity, one dependent on the other for the success of the design.
The repetition of hands and feet as objects in Friedeberg’s pieces is whimsical and apparently significant symbolism for him. Here you can see the use of brightly colored paint and gilding.The name of this piece, “Astroclock-ological Time” clarifies the design, but still leaves one mystified by its obvious meaning. Pure fantasy is achieved by the “numbers” on the clock, with each single hand containing the appropriate number of fingers for the number on the clock.
This piece is a rare chandelier made sometime in the 1960″s out of wood and gilt. It is designed to hold candles, not electric light bulbs. It’s fanciful design, with classic Friedeberg symbols of hands and feet and half moons, speaks of the artist’s association with surrealism.
The use of a multitude of hands also ties in perfectly with the concept of this table. Here we see an imaginary figure, in this case a beautiful lady, who’s body snakes to the ground with extra hands extending out. In spite of the obvious oddity of the piece, it possesses a beauty and refinement that is extremely alluring.
Friedeberg’s love of architecture permeates throughout his paintings. He creates non-functional architectural fantasies that delight the eyes. His canvases are packed with repetitious details that often appear as hallucinations.
How beautiful is this piece, appropriately titled, “A New Generation of Infants Hidden.” Constructed from carved wood, ink, acrylic on a wood panel, this work demonstrates Friedeberg’s use of repetition and symbolism to convey his thoughts. The composition combines a surrealistic and ethnic sensibility with a variety of patterned circles and bright colors.
This serigraph is called ‘Las Luchas” which literally translated from the Spanish means “The Fights” Here one can see Friedeberg’s use of different symbols…a female nude, two men fighting, an antique car…waxing and waning in quantities. The unusual combinations of symbols is confusing, yet potent and eye catching.
Friedeberg’s fastidious attention to details, unusual compositions, intense colors, and almost halucinatory presentation are all illustrated in this recent silk screen.
Critics often write that it is hard to pigeon hole Friedeberg’s art as it has its own uniqueness, although frequently borrowing from other art movements, such as surrealism and Dadism. One can also see references to various religions, Aztec codices and the occult. In the end, his combination of purposeful disorder with his artistic sensibility makes him one of the outstanding artistic creators of his time.
Despite Friedeberg’s great success, you can still obtain some recent pieces, especially the seriegraphs, at reasonable prices. For those of you who are interested in purchasing his work here are some of my favorite places to contact: Sebastian + Barquet, Galere, Ruiz-Healy Art, Trouve .
Ciao, ciao ’til next time!