Lillia Frantin’s paintings are uniquely her own and yet keep within a Modernist tradition that places emotional response at the center of art. Art and life are the subject ; painting is how we experience them. After Modernism, while art can still be about beauty, it will be a beauty that is complex, honest, deeply personal and engaging. Art is now connected in a direct way to life, to the viewer, to us.
Reading her notes, from an early age Lillia was drawn to art, deciding to be an artist before she even knew such a thing existed. But it was only after an undergraduate minor in art history and a serious study of the Modernist masters- Cezanne, Van Gogh, Matisse and Bonnard- that she fully understood the potential power and freedom that painting, as an art form, might mean to her. In the studio, she began testing the limits of representation and discovered a visual vocabulary that could go beyond the constraints of description and use interpretive color, line and composition to literally reveal the spirit of things. Never satisfied with pure abstraction, inspired by ‘life around her’ and the simple pleasures of seeing, feeling and responding, she continued to resist categories – decorative vs serious, abstract vs realism – to paint from within. Experimenting, she invented a very personal language – symbolic, rythmic and defined by vibrant color and expressive line, the tactility of paint and surface, strong formal composition and unexpected, shifting perspectives. Today, her paintings invite us to explore the play between breathy, open areas of unpainted canvas and bold drawing, between the feminine and the masculine, between the seen and the felt. Revealing the ‘life-force’ in nature and the everyday – fruits and flowers, patterned cloth, the movement of water, air , clouds – her art is alive with freshness, luminosity, energy. Each brushstroke is charged and dynamic, each shape and form almost vibrates with physicality and presence. Meaning is now ‘imbedded’ not only in the seen, natural world of ‘subject’ – but expressed and transcribed in the very act of painting itself . With each experience of it , ours alone. Viewing her work is, as Matisse might say, an equivalence: nature and the world is first experienced by the artist, then thru the act of painting it is passed on to each of us – to all of us. Art and life; life and art. The circle is complete. ( from the artist’s journals )
Frantin received her Masters degree from Pratt Institute, NY in 1968. She was a professor of Painting and Modern Art History for over twenty years, painting and exhibiting professionally in New York, California, New Mexico and Cape Cod. After leaving her professorship to paint full-time in 1991, she traveled and conducted popular workshops while continuing to paint and exhibit throughout the US and Europe. Her credits include one-person museum and gallery exhibitions in Provence, France; London; Barcelona; Boston, Cape Cod, Nantucket & Martha’s Vineyard; Scottsdale; Alexandria VA; Palm Desert, California; Los Angeles; Santa Fe; New York City and Palm Beach. Her work has received countless awards and is in many private and museum collections across the United States and abroad. A book of her work, “Studio , Gardens and The Sea” is available on-line. She invites you to enjoy some examples of her recent work here and to feel free to contact her with any questions or comments. For Lillia: “Art is most honest and valuable when it engages and makes accessible what we all naturally seek in life: understanding and harmony, independence and the freedom to explore and imagine..but underlying all, an abiding need for connection. To me, art really is about truth and beauty”.