Bex Freund, Eclectix Interview 51

bex freund artist


 Eclectix Interview With Artist Bex Freund


Last month, Eclectix attended Bex Freund’s week-long solo show - The Bottled Nova Must Feed Still,  and we were blown away by her ferocious intensely moving works. Swirls and swatches of textured layers contort their dramatic subjects, 
exploding off her canvas in brilliant color. Her palette reminds us of the super saturated early days of color film in Italian cinema – deep Indigo blues contrasted with red-hot lavas. A mixture of surrealism, science fiction scenarios and a female under the influence of German Expressionism – all united by brushstrokes of fast and furious glorious movement.  

Bex is deaf and at her Alter Space opening in San Francisco, we spoke with her via her excellent animated interpreter. The superlative show was a wonderful look into Bex’s very original and creative mind, a whirlwind of emotions – resulting in one of the strongest solo exhibitions we have seen in a long time.






When we asked Bex whether being deaf has influenced her work, she had this to share…

The short answer is no. The longer, more complex answer is this: To the extent that it has shaped my life experiences and worldview, it’s unavoidable, because I can’t clinically separate myself from my art–however, my art is not about deafness, and I’ve never directly addressed it in my work. In regard to certain cases of self-portraiture – such as Strata or Hyenas, there are themes such as isolation that do have a history of being in other Deaf artists’ work as well. It’s a specific kind of isolation – not the universal, generic sort, but one that stems from a language barrier and lack of comprehension on hearing people’s parts – they might relate, but never have personally experienced it. It’s never a message that is deliberately conveyed, but the theme does sometimes organically surface as a consequence of its role in my personal history.






Do you work full-time on your art or do you also have another job? 

As of right now, it’s pretty much my full-time job. I used to work as a studio assistant for a painter who was full-time, and after that experience I felt like I had what it took. Fortunately, my personal cost of living is very minimal, and I supplement my income by doing a lot of odd jobs whenever I can, like designing CAD layouts for art galleries, or participating in commercial shoots. It’s scattershot as all hell, but it’s what works for me.






An interesting bit of history, surrounding one of my distant relatives is …

My great-grandmother was a complete badass–she traveled all over the world, and this was in the thirties. She was also total bros with Eleanor Roosevelt. I’ve seen photos of them chilling together, and read some of the letters they wrote to each other. My great grandmother sent Eleanor eggs from her farm, and in one letter Eleanor wrote back. She talks about coming home really late one night and not being able to get dinner because all of her staff were at home, so she just cooked herself some eggs and was so incredibly stoked about it. I love that imagery.



eclectix bex freund



My favorite art memory from my childhood is …

I was obsessed with Picasso’s Blue Period painting “The Old Guitarist” at seven or eight years old. I tried painting a copy, and this was when I was just starting out with oils. The old man ended up with six fingers on one hand.



My interest in art started …  in the womb.






I am often inspired and motivated by …

I’m usually in the shower when I get my best ideas. Also, when I was in high school, the only other Deaf person there aside from me was the janitor. Loneliest man I’ve ever met, scared the crap out of my fourteen-year old self.



If I could spend the day with any artist (dead or alive) it would be …

Artemisia Gentileschi. I’d propose marriage. She painted one of my favorite paintings ever, “Judith Slaying Holofernes”  Also, she personally knew Galileo.



skrattande vargar



The art technique that has helped me the most is ….

Professor Flitwick was bang on. Swish and flick. A lot of people seem to think every single motion and mark is done deliberately and thoughtfully – and perhaps that’s true for some, but I find that’s generally not the case. A lot of my best mark-making happens when I’m not thinking about it – or rather, thinking with my hand instead of my brain. It’s liminal. I think it’s crucial to let your hand’s natural spontaneous motions and gestures lead the way – whether you’re holding a pencil, pen, or paintbrush.



If I could own one piece of art, out of the world’s collections, it would be …

Francis Bacon’s  Study after Velázquez’s Portrait of Pope Innocent X !

 I would never leave the room. I’d just sit and stare at it all day.



disgregation bex freund



My current favorite piece of my own art is …

It’s hard to choose, but Disgregation (full image above, detail below)) means a lot to me. It was painted during a turning point in my life in 2010, and it was also the first time that I ever felt like I had truly succeeded at creating something.



detail bex



The most memorable thing anyone has ever said to me about my art is …..

One day, I was hanging up my paintings in a gallery for my senior thesis show. A woman walked in off the street, and stood in front of Autoylsis (below) for a while. She stared at it, and then started to cry, great big heaving sobs, saying “This is so true.



bex freund art



My favorite (recently viewed) TV show is…

 I know I’m REALLY late to this bandwagon, but when I was in Chile my twin brother got me hooked on Star Trek. Growing up, I was a Star Wars kid. So now I’m slowly getting through the entire original series, then I’ll move on to Picard and Deep Space Nine - really looking forward to that.


I am currently working on …

 I’m very excited about my current project. I’m working on a graphic novel about a fictional city that gradually becomes self-aware, and alive.

 The inspiration behind it was …

 It’s something I’ve been working on since I was fifteen or sixteen, and it’s basically one long love note to everything that ever inspired and sustained me throughout my darkest times. The working title is “Fever-Dreams of the City that Never Was.” I have some pages penciled and inked, but the coloring isn’t finished, so I will instead provide some of my best concept art. ( below)



bex comic novel



An event in my life that sparked a number of my works …

I really had to take a step back and think about this. The only truly honest answer seems to be when I was twelve and went to Kenya. It was my first time being out of the United States, and it profoundly expanded my understanding of my small place in a vast world. I was a city person my whole life at that point, so being out there in the bush, tramping around giant termite mounds and picking up zebra jawbones (to this day I still collect bones) – it really spun my head around. I would spend hours just sitting on top of a truck, watching the drama of life play out all around me. I remember watching a lion hollow out the neck of a zebra while a circle of vultures slowly closed in with little jagged hops, only to frantically fall back every time the lion looked up at them. There was one day when I was hanging out with my brother, and we saw something in the distance. It looked like a dead zebra – there were a lot of corpses about, as it was the dry season. So we hiked down there, and oddly enough, we never found a zebra, but we did find a huge headless water buffalo by a dried-out watering hole. I remember looking inside the body cavity and seeing the vibrantly green plants underneath growing up through the holes in the skin, and poking at it with a stick. That summer really changed me, and I can still remember everything I saw there, if I close my eyes, as though it were yesterday.



A funny story surrounding the sale of one of my artworks happened when…

I once traded a butcher friend a painting for a bag full of handmade salami. To this day, I maintain that it was the best business transaction I’ve ever done.






If I could time travel – the era I would like to drop in on is … 

The Hadean Eon, so I could watch the formation of the world. That was a pretty metal time. Lots of unparalleled pyrotechnics.



If I could live anywhere in the world, where would that be? 

I would love to live in a O’Neil cylinder orbiting in space, filled with all sorts of different ecosystems and habitats, because space is cool, but so are biomes.



eclectix bex freund hyenas



My favorite quote is …

“Never turn your back on fear.

It should always be in front of you, like a thing that might have to be killed.” -







Link to Bex’s Website

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