Fred Gutzeit Retrospective at Catherine Fosnot Art Gallery

Previewing – with gallery founder and curator Catherine Fosnot

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Fred Gutzeit (2021) Future Life Puzzle, Acrylic on paper on canvas, 72” x 72”

The Opening Fall Season at the Fosnot Art Gallery will showcase Fred Gutzeit’s body of works from 1966-2021. Although he began as a painter of found objects and landscapes, Fred Gutzeit has never been satisfied with capturing the realism we “see“ in nature. He has continually sought a realism through abstraction that would capture the hidden complexity of nature juxtaposed with a human search for structure. Musings about complexity and chaos theories, string theory, mathematics modeling, and current scientific speculation about “multiverses” are employed as he explores consciousness, interaction, identity, and searches for structure. His bold use of color and dimensionality are wonderous and aesthetically pleasing allowing us to travel into the cosmos of his world.

Reading about string theory and the structuring of space/time into Calabi-Yau Manifolds of folded space had a dramatic impact on Fred and he began to transform his new deep nature explorations into such spaces. There are many stages of his work in this 55-year span retrospective, from early detailed landscapes to wild, vibrating, folded spaces as the artist searches for pattern and structure. “All my life,” he explains, “I’ve worked to see “form” as poetry in my “findings. “

Tell me about the genesis of this show.

I first met Fred in 2003. I was a student in the art department at CCNY and Fred was my drawing instructor. I was also a colleague of his in that I was simultaneously on the faculty as a Full Professor of Mathematics Education. Always torn by two loves (math and art), although I spent most of my time at the college teaching mathematics to elementary teachers, I could frequently be found in the art department taking courses and painting.

Because of my background in math, I became fascinated by Fred’s large 6ft by 6ft canvases full of Calabi-Yau symbols and vortices. In algebraic geometry, a Calabi-Yau Manifold, also known as a Calabi-Yau space, is a particular type of manifold which has properties that yield very interesting applications in theoretical physics. Particularly in superstring theory, the extra dimensions of spacetime are sometimes conjectured to take the form of a 6-dimensional Calabi-Yau manifold. A vortex is a region in a fluid in which the flow revolves around an axis line, which may be straight or curved. Vortices form in stirred fluids, and may be observed in smoke rings, whirlpools in the wake of a boat, and the winds surrounding a tropical cyclone, tornado or dust devil. Once formed, vortices can move, stretch, twist, and interact in complex ways. A moving vortex carries some angular and linear momentum, energy, and mass, with it.

Mesmerized, I noted that this was a crazy, brilliant painter, not a mathematician or physicist, who was transforming flat surfaces of canvas into multi-dimensional space/time explorations. And even crazier was the idea that he called himself a “realist,” not an abstractionist, claiming he was depicting “deep nature”—painting found objects and nature as they really are!

Fred Gutzeit (2009) Viva Calabi-Yau Bin, acrylic on paper on canvas, diptych 72” x 144”

What would you like to share about the featured body of work?

This is a huge show filling 3 large rooms. It includes small, signed prints and artist proofs from limited series to several large 72” x 144” paintings. The show presents three distinct periods of work over a 55-year span.

The first period displayed in Atrium 102 includes early work done when the artist was in his twenties and thirties. He had a deep fascination with nature but even then, he was intrigued with line and movement and soon his paintings took on a deeper exploration—a look into the landscape rather than a look at it.

Installation view, Lacoste Tree (right), Otter Falls 13 (left)

His second period was characterized by a search for structure, pattern, and mathematical form in nature. He became an avid reader of theoretical physics ideas, calling them “his scientific myths” and felt art could be used as a vehicle to explore them further and creatively with a freedom unconstrained by rules, data, and mathematical proofs. Big bold canvases were the result.

Otters Falls 24 and 25 Binary: Matter and Anti-matter Fred Gutzeit 2007, Acrylic on paper on canvas, 72 x 144 inches

In his current decade of artwork, Fred turned to an exploration of identity. He saw signatures as lines, but also as self-portraits, using them to explore human consciousness. In this body of work, titled Sig-Nature, signatures are the limit of the body–the character of the self, juxtaposed in the complexity of the surround. Gutzeit is putting a human “touch” to the landscape–nature transformation that he had been involved with previously for more than 20 years– from “nature” to “human nature.”

Musings about quantum mechanics, string theory, and current scientific speculation about multiverses, brought him full circle around to wonder about consciousness—human nature. Since Unfolding has been a guiding idea through the years for him, we titled the show Deep Nature Unfolded, alluding to making sense of and shaping “findings.”  This spirit of evolution includes synthesizing ideas and images from past work yet builds to the unexpected.

Fred Gutzeit, Sig Whiz, Vector Prints Signed and Numbered

Fred Gutzeit has lived and worked on the Lower East Side of Manhattan for over 40 years. He has been the recipient of Pollack-Krasner Foundation Awards 3 times, as well as fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center, the Soaring Gardens Artists’ Retreat in PA, and the Helliker-Lahotan Foundation on Cranberry Isle, ME. Gutzeit holds a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art and an MFA from Hunter, City University of NY, and has been an adjunct professor at CCNY since 1993, retiring in 2020. Among the public places that his “Nature” Landscape and “Nature” Abstraction paintings have been exhibited are the Mansfield Art Center in Ohio, the Conde Naste Building Lobby on Times Square, and the Rodale Building Lobby in Midtown Manhattan. To date he has done “SigNature” solo exhibitions at Tregoning Gallery in Cleveland, Ohio, Brian Morris Gallery, Pratt Manhattan, and VanDerPlas Gallery in New York, among others.

Fred Gutzeit: Deep Nature Unfolded, 1966-2021 – A Retrospective
Opening Reception, September 23, 6-8 pm
(Jazz Pianist, Greg Bryant, will be serenading on the piano).
September 23 – October 30
Fosnot Art Gallery
165 State St, New London, CT

The Fosnot Art Gallery is a two-hour drive from Manhattan barring traffic and is on the Amtrak line halfway between NYC and Boston. Gallery hours are Tuesday-Saturday, noon-6PM.

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