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Friday, March 3, 2000
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 108

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Remarkable etchings by Lucian Freud displayed at UH's Blaffer Gallery

By Rattaya Nimibutr
Daily Cougar Staff

Lucian Freud is an artist who seems to impress his work with impatience and unspoken cruelty. In his etchings, there is a certain element of harshness and deformity that makes his works dark, mysterious and to some extent brutal.

That is what makes his achievement a brilliant showcase of the art of etching. His heaviness in the scratching of the metal plate seems honest and effective, elevating the intensity to an even more savaging level.

Born in Berlin in 1922 and having lived in London since the age of 10, Freud began his artistic work as a realist painter. After a short-lived debut in the 1940s, Freud turned over to etching with the result of a comeback publication in 1982.

A grandson of Sigmund Freud, the printmaker likes to focus on facial features and the human body. He has an obsession with etching the body features in awkward positions and elaborating on facial expressions that, made with needle points on metal, are intricately defined.

In all of his 44 etchings, Freud offers two divisions of his work. There are the etchings of 1982 and a collection titled A Conversation in 1998, which is making its first public appearance.

In the portraits of his mother ("The Painter's Mother," 1982), of which there are three versions, there is a wave of sympathetic emotion. Freud does not play with covered feelings. He scratches with honesty and shows confusion, anger and vulnerability.

His trend of etching human facial expressions to a surreal degree spurs in audiences waves of goosebumps. The effectiveness of his work is of that quality; his ability to merge the lines together to create a unifying emotion is remarkable.

Many of his works rely on the notion of a posing nude body. In "Man Posing" (1985), Freud etches a nude man laying on the couch. While that may seem a simple idea, he works his small lines of scratches to give each twist and turn of the body its own character.

Freud's self-portrait is one of his most notable etchings. He approaches his own facial features with an honest emotion, yet it appears darker than all of his other work. His scrapes on the metal plate are more cluttered, the emotions are much more intense and it seems as if he wants to hide his portrait behind all those scratches.

Part of the Paine Webber Art Collection in New York, Freud's work will be shown until March 26 on the first floor of Blaffer Gallery in the Fine Arts Building. Admission is free. For more information regarding hours and tours, call (713) 743-9530.
 

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