I met Frédérique Stref in Thailand. We were both in the same idyllic retreat and she told me about her life in Singapore. After a certain while we talked about our work and our passions. She loves creating wax paintings. Wax with different colours. I never heard of this technique before. I was really surprised when she showed me photos of her art. Something special, came in my mind. And perfect for sl4artglobal.
May I introduce you: The French artist Frédérique Stref.
She was born in 1967 in Nancy, the French capital of Art Nouveau. Thanks to her father, she grew up in an artistic environment and was exposed to several art techniques, among which was the kiln casting technique known as pâte de verre. Throughout her youth, her father would regularly visit the family at the French Riviera, drawing inspiration from the incomparable colour shades and light of this sunny region.
In 1996, Fédérique moved to Brussels, where she trained as a Spa and massage therapist. In the Belgian capital she was, once more, surrounded by remarkable Art Nouveau architecture. Shortly after she would settle in Copenhagen and then in Den Haag. Both the organic lines of Art Nouveau and the elegant lines of Danish and Dutch design bore a strong influence on her art. While she was living in the Netherlands, Frédérique stumbled upon artworks made with encaustic in an art gallery in Amsterdam.
The sensuous texture of the medium struck a chord with her, bringing back to her memory the endearing translucency of the glass sculptures that her father used to create in his workshop. The artist immediately sensed that the texture and radiance of encaustic suited her sensory nature, thereby enabling her to closely render her deepest feelings.
In 2009 Frédérique moved to Asia. In Hong Kong, she came across the work of Indian – American artist Natvar Bhavsar. Together with Mark Rothko, whose ability to express profound emotion through colour left a deep impression on her several years earlier in London, the sensual resonance of Natvar Bhavsar’ paintings planted the seed of her own art practice. The artist who, back in 1998, had discovered by serendipity the fragrant and malleable medium of encaustic, had now found her source of inspiration in the yearning for transcendence and the infinite rendered in the work of Colour Field masters.
With a clear idea of what she was aiming at in her own art practice, Frédérique started looking for an encaustic master. She found him in the person of Gary Simmons, who lived in the French Riviera. The artist traveled back to this much-loved region, eager to start a new chapter in her life. Simmons’ decades of experience with wax and encaustic technique gave Frédérique a firm foundation upon which she started developing her own artistic search.
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Interview with Frédérique from May 2019/Radio Singapore: