Encaustic painting has found a resurgence with contemporary artists.
A technique dating back to the 5th century BC, encaustic is wax that has
been fused with heat. The term encaustic means literally "to burn
in." Pigment is mixed with hot melted wax and painted, quickly, onto
a hard surface, drying fast into a rich satin film, dense with color.
Contemporary artists have adapted encaustic in diverse ways, from traditional
hot methods to cold wax mediums. All lend the work a dense richness unmatched
in other mediums, and artists very often use wax in combination with other
techniques, creating a varied and exciting visual effect.
Elise Freda is no exception, having found her voice in this fast intuitive medium. Her work is elegant, abstract and colorful, often immersing collage elements in the dense wax. Her current exhibition, Gesture and Geometry, at Henaine Miranda Contemporary Art Projects in Port Chester NY, explores her intuitive relationship with the tension between geometric organization and fluid calligraphic line, rendered in loose sensuous wax. Says Freda, "Painting is for me the process of discovering what I want to see. For this reason abstraction is a natural and intuitive choice. During the process of painting I find my image. I am constantly seeking to find a balance between tension and harmony, spontaneity and control, empty space and active space, depth and surface."
Freda has been painting in encaustic since 1994. Wax is ideal for building a painting with layers, as it hardens in minutes. She also uses the wax to both reveal and conceal elements in the images; wax is perfect for creating veils that partially obscure. It can be transparent or opaque and everything in between, the color can be dense and powerful or sheer and soft. This allows Freda to contrast high intense reds with diffuse whites, hot yellows with cool blues, often incorporating a black calligraphic line to tie into the overall structure. Her work is geometric, but the depth of the medium allows the hard edge geometry to seem organic, fluid and natural, merging cerebral abstraction with an ancient instinctual medium.