Into the Deep

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 by Stephen Maine

Lake Union

In her synecdochic paintings of the restless surfaces of rivers, lakes and seas, Fredericka Foster construes water in motion as all that is vital to the living world. Those surfaces—whether turbulent, languid, or something between—recede into pictorial space as the viewer’s eye moves from the bottom edge of the painting toward the top, exerting a dynamic counterpoint to the picture plane itself. But whatever the character of the waves, ripples and eddies that fill the frame, they are invariably populated by eccentric shapes born of the irregular, often kaleidoscopic reflection of ambient light. Though she has studied the behavior of light on the surface of water for some years, Foster brings a heightened intensity to her most recent work. The eight canvases in “Water Way” attest that this artist’s command of painterly craft achieves the level of mastery even as the allegorical potential of her project continues to deepen.

Adopting the modernist strategy of all-over composition, Foster fits the means of abstraction to depictive ends. Movement and rhythm—certain signs of life—feed this artist’s visual imagination and lead her to uncover in the waves’ structure a wealth of figurative suggestion, from shimmying, oozing loops to barbed, shrapnel-like shards. These musical paintings mark time, vary their theme, wash over the viewer, and seemingly could continue to expand ad infinitum. Read More