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Danielle Fretwell

Danielle Fretwell

In her practice, Danielle Fretwell navigates the space between traditional memetic painting and automatic processes, employing a dialogue of invitation and dissuasion within the realm of the image to question the social construction of truth. The core of her work lies in the presentation of ‘veils’, each serving as a deliberate obstruction that challenges the viewer's access to a world conscious of its own aestheticism. These veils, differing in form, act as visual hindrances that obscure and conceal information. By presenting her own mirage of truth, Fretwell invites viewers to critically engage with the presented imagery and ultimately shape a personal understanding of what lies beneath the veil.

Fretwell’s preoccupation with the aesthetic nature of her subjects is drawn upon through her interests in 17th century still-life painting. Objects that beg for our attention, suspended in time, making their vanity permanent. These polished atmospheres are meant to lure the viewer in, furthering a narrative around deception in painting. The artist's interest in the exploration of deception within the medium mirrors her own experience of navigating a world steeped in uncertainty. Thus, the veils in Fretwell's work not only echo the caution required in living in a media-saturated domain but also serve as a metaphor for the complexities inherent in identifying what is ‘true’. She advocates for a discerning approach to information consumption in a climate where skepticism is required. Within her still-life paintings, Fretwell deliberately exposes sections of the image that are otherwise covered. This intentional unveiling becomes an act of her own sincerity, reinforcing the notion that, despite the layers of distortion in our surroundings, a genuine truth exists beneath the surface.

The abstracted works, particularly, play a nuanced role by presenting an irony – the formal appearance of fabric concealing the subject was created using fabric. Here, Fretwell employs the technique of layering thinned paint over a rendered still-life to deliberately obscure parts or the entirety of the image. Subsequently, she presses bed sheets, foam, or other absorbent materials into the thinned paint, leaving behind a trace of the object imbued with its unique texture. This layering, reminiscent of both concealment and transparency, mirrors the dance between perception and reality and creates a measured tension between immediacy and prolongation. To further complicate the viewer’s understanding of the image, intricately painted details, such as stitches and seams, are added to the seemingly abstract areas resulting in mysterious trompe l'oeil. This controlled intervention serves to guide the work back into the realm of descriptive painting. In this synthesis of control and subversion, Fretwell's practice becomes an exploration of the boundaries between intention and chance, truth and illusion.

Danielle Fretwell (b.1996) lives and works in Boston, USA. Fretwell received her BFA from Endicott College in 2018, and her MFA from Boston University in 2021. Recent exhibitions include: ‘Shallow Invitations’, Alice Amati, London (2024); ‘Infinite Loop’, Alice Amati, London, (2023); ‘Human Nature’, Gallery 263, Cambridge, MA, (2022); ‘Objectivity’, Gallery 263, Cambridge, MA, (2021); ‘No Matter How Delicate’, Heftler Visiting Artist Gallery, Beverly, MA, (2021); ‘Characters, All’, Tiger Strikes Astroid, Brooklyn, (2021); ‘IYKYK: Are You Ready For The Future?’, Pianocraft Gallery, Boston MA, (2021); ‘BU MFA Painting 2021 Thesis Show’, Stone Gallery, Boston, MA, (2021); ‘Air Dry’, Commonwealth Gallery at Boston University, Boston, MA, (2021). She was awarded the ‘MyMA Artist Grant’ in 2023, and in 2021 was an artist in residence at The Studios at MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA.



Danielle Fretwell - Shallow Invitations.jpg


FAD Magazine - 12 November 2023
Ocula Art - 3 November 2023.jpeg
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