For local artist Rey Fritsch, a persistent battle with insomnia has been a boon of sorts. Some of her most inspired work is born in the wee hours of the night.
“It all started because I had trouble sleeping, getting up, painting through the night, going back to sleep in the morning, getting whatever hours I could in,” Fritsch says. “Being sleep deprived has always been a big deal when it comes to my creativity.”
Naked, Sleepless and Hot Pink is Fritsch’s first official exhibition of her artwork, showing at cre8ery Gallery and Studio until Nov. 15.
“I feel like my art is really a personal part of my life that I’ve had a hard time opening up and sharing, so I think that’s where the naked part comes in. I feel very exposed, and I’m just showing myself off to the world,” Fritsch says.
The exhibition by Fritsch, whose work has been described as “pop surrealism,” combines portraits of leering eyes, artful depictions of the female form and more, all guided by Fritsch’s deft, polychromatic brushstrokes. Keen appreciators may notice one colour in particular that stands out.
“Hot pink is just my happy colour. It breaks things up in my head when I start slapping it on or I use it as an underpainting. You just can’t take it too seriously. It’s hot pink,” Fritsch says.
After posting her art to Instagram in late 2016, Fritsch’s work was met with unexpected fanfare from aesthetes and casual admirers alike.
“It was really actually frightening for me. I put it out there, and, rather quickly, people seemed to like it. I was selling, and I was able to do it full-time,” Fritsch says.
“I would say I just create. I just go with it. I love colours. I love textures.”
When Fritsch was commissioned by a friend at cre8ery to paint a portrait of the gallery cat, Odin, she crossed paths with Jordan Miller, the owner and executive director of the gallery.
Fritsch’s “brushstrokes are extremely expressive, and that speaks volumes to how the artist is feeling herself. Some of them have drippy paint. Some of them, the drips go the wrong way, because she’s worked on it one way, and then she’s reworked it another way,” Miller says.
After noticing a lack of art spaces for novice artists at the time of her graduation from art school, Miller founded cre8ery in 2002 with first-time artists like Fritsch in mind.
cre8ery “is a gallery and studio space for artists of all levels. It’s a space for everyone,” Miller says.
“I try not to screen anything, and I don’t tell someone they’re not a good enough artist in my gallery. I’ve sold everything! I’ve sold a man eating garbage out of a garbage can,” Miller says.
Fritsch cites the simple thrill of creation as her motivating factor for sharing her artwork.
“I find the most exciting thing about painting is there is something that suddenly exists that never existed before.
I think that’s an exciting feeling,” Fritsch says. “I think it’s exciting that people look at it. I want people to leave inspired. I want people to leave feeling like they’ve been on an adventure. If people can be stoked about my art, that makes me happy.”
cre8ery Gallery and Studio is located at 125 Adelaide St. Please note that face masks are required in the building at all times.
Published in Volume 77, Number 09 of The Uniter (November 10, 2022)