"I make scenes that seem suspended, as if something had happened or was going to happen, a fragment of a continuous story the viewer has the opportunity to imagine."
In the darkly romantic paintings of German artist Markus Fräger, moments of contemporary life are frozen in time like film stills. Shadows fall over his characters as they inhabit a series of everyday, mostly domestic spaces, mostly at night, their faces often illuminated by the eerie glow of a lamp or television. He presents us with slices of narrative, tense with the energy of words just said or yet to be spoken. "In all my work,” he has said, “I am very interested in the notion of time and the present moment. I make scenes that seem suspended, as if something had happened or was going to happen, a fragment of a continuous story the viewer has the opportunity to imagine.”
Fräger’s work churns up a host of art historical associations, from the sensual baroque religious tableaux of Rubens to the stage-lit dramas of Caravaggio, from Delacroix’s loosely brushed raptures to Edward Hopper’s luminous lonely city-dwellers, from Ibsen’s dark realist theater to David Lynch’s absurd, twisted noirish films. He conceives of each painting like a director, first imaging a scenario, then inviting friends or professional actors to play the roles and photographing the improvised scene for several hours, leaving the actors “quite free and observing their movements and attitudes.” Later, when he examines the photographs, the scenario tends to transform. He begins to freely invent, often superimposing different images to arrive at a final version.
Born in 1959, Fräger studied art history and archaeology at the University of Münster. He has exhibited his work across Europe, particularly in Germany, Switzerland, and Luxembourg, and is in the public collections of the Mittelrhein Museum in Koblenz, the Ines and Jürgen Graf Foundation for Art, Culture, and Industrial Design, and the Vatican Museums in Vatican City, among others. He lives and works in Cologne, Germany.