In the 1920s, blues and gospel singer Blind Willie Johnson wrote “Dark is the Night” in a raw expression of lonliness. On November 15th, Nate Frizzel will put his own spin on the original tune at Corey Helford Gallery’s CIRCA in Los Angeles. Although based on something written nearly a century ago, Frizzel’s pieces exhibit modern influences. His signature, modern-day subjects with their animal counterparts are decidedly dark, surrounded by the blackness of night. His palette conjures a quiet sadness, and also awe in beautifully rendered and surreal landscapes. The work is contemporary in its pops of color and pop-culture references, as in details like his subject’s sneakers and clothing. On his color choices, Frizzel shares, “I’m playing with the use of black and negative space… seeing how far I can push myself to mute my color palette and still put a little life into the paintings.” There is a primal nature about them as well, as in the animalistic gaze of a boy in a lion’s pride, or young girl curled into an owl’s den. Johnson’s song exuded a certain animal quality in his vocalizations of humming and moaning, which Frizzel evokes in his own style.
Nate Frizzell’s “Dark Was The Night” exhibits at CHG Circa on November 15th through December 6th, 2014.