Nicolas Freytag’s paintings broach the highs and lows of human activity as if they were two sides of the same coin. Ostensibly focused on the grand achievements of the French Enlightenment, his dark billowing works portray Progress as inevitably rooted in humanity’s most base desires – as if the pinnacles of Science and Reason require the fertilizer of Vice in order to flourish. The result is a macabre carnival of ambition and desire, where the drive to satisfaction is both our greatest strength and weakness.
Born in 1975 in Geneva, Nicolas Freytag graduated from the Geneva College of Fine Arts (ESBA) in 2003, focusing on painting, drawing and printmaking. His interest lies in the figure, particularly surrounding the question of alterity, as well as in portraiture through an ongoing practice. Dealing with the image’s inscription in history, his recent work takes place somewhere around the hinge between the 18th and 19th century. Freytag traveled for three years across Africa and Asia before settling in Istanbul. He has been living and working in London since 2008.