CMY RGB & Untitled Color

April Friges (b. 1981, Cleveland, Ohio) is a conceptual artist based in Pittsburgh, PA, whose artwork uses basic photography principles to explore the boundaries and characteristics of photographic materials.  Her most recent abstract color prints and sculptures, CMY RGB & Untitled Color, explore the ways in which photography is designed to function and the materiality of the photograph itself. At its core, Friges’ work is about photographic paper.  This amazing material is usually made invisible by photography; we see an image on the paper, but never the fiber, plastic, silver, dye and gelatin that make the paper itself.

The images are not from a camera; Friges works in the darkroom with only photosensitive paper and light to develop a complex and imaginary language with the mediums in exploration.  Friges strives for colors in their purest form.  She is inspired by the subtractive primary colors; cyan, magenta, and yellow, which are used in the darkroom to create the additive primary colors; red, green and blue.  In total, these colors are the bases of all color photography.

The two-dimensional works comprise of the colors and values of and from the KODAK Color Print Viewing Filter Kits, used as a tool in the color darkroom.  These six color-print viewing filter cards aid photographers in evaluating the color balance of a test print to create a perfectly color balanced photograph.  Each filter is represented in 10, 20, and 40 density values and judged against an image.

In both color and black and white, Friges also physically manipulates the paper with plaster-like material to construct three-dimensional sculpted works that examine the intersection between image and object.  The photo paper which was designed to lay flat is now permanently curling, and folding.  The site-specific gallery lighting cast shadows from these objects, relating to the origin of how the works are created.  Once off the walls, the pieces are often rolled up and flattened, thus creating a body of work in flux every time the work is exhibited.


In my previous body of work, Spectator (Selected Works 2012-2014), I address the medium of photography and its classification as a two-dimensional art form, which comprise of large-scale (50 inches x 8 to 50 feet), unique, black and white gelatin silver prints. I experiment with process in the darkroom, and manipulate the paper to construct three-dimensional sculpted works and when the artwork is taken down from the gallery walls at the end of the exhibition, it is re-flattened. Subsequently, the sculptured image created will have a new form every time it is shown. This work questions the far too common two-dimensionality of photography and the constrained square frame that we have come to define as the medium. There is a gray area created between photography and sculpture that is left to the viewer to determine where the work belongs. The title Spectator is not just about looking at the work. Perhaps the art objects themselves could be considered witness to the act of looking at photography as a genre in the contemporary art world. The pieces could therefore be the spectators that question how a photograph is now defined.