Jake Freilich: Bona Fide Trier

On view: Mar 22 - Apr 4
MFA Art Studios
3001 S. Flower St., LA

Opening reception: March 22, 6-9pm

Free and open to the public

Gallery Hours: Tue - Sat, 12noon - 5pm
Or by appointment


Roski MFA Art candidate Jake Freilich presents his MFA Thesis exhibition Bona Fide Trier.


When Kazamir Malevich painted Black Squarein 1915, he seemed to stretchpainterly abstraction to its inane terminus. (The painting is literally a giant black square.) Malevich believedthathis nonobjective art wouldlead us to a new, heightenedspirituality.  El Lissitzky described itas, the “ultimate tip of the visual pyramid of perspective into infinity.” From the safety of hindsight,the failure of Malevich’s utopic vision of art seems obvious, yet another example ofModernism’s unfulfilled idealism.  

So maybe it’s not surprising that, one hundred years after its creation, conservationists discovered a racist joke in the underpainting of Black Square. Without outwardly changing its appearance, the painting had transmuted into filth. Whether or not we throw Malevich’s canonical work out with the trash is moot,the joke’s already on us. The ultimate abstract painting was never even abstract. 

Twenty years later, in 1935, following the sensational trial of Bruno Hauptmann—the man (maybe falsely) executed for kidnapping and murdering Lindbergh’s baby—cameras were banned from American courtrooms. Courtroom sketch artists found new demand since their drawings were the sole visual record of landmark cases, upending at least in this particular realm the usual flow of progress. 

Freilich's exhibition, Bona Fide Trier, examines recent art history as a series of contradictions, both a means of self-actualization and a method for documentation. It questions why we still take so seriously a medium we’ve long considered outdated. These paintings reflect on the relationship between the purpose of their form and the purpose of the images they depict.