Since 1978 Dora Frost has exhibited paintings and works on paper and invented new ways of utilizing traditional pictorial mediums and materials to create exciting three-dimensional installations. In response to a recent question about the aesthetic underpinnings of her approach, Frost, who was born in Manhattan in 1951 and studied at the Parsons School of Design in New York from 1969 to 1973, speaks about her passion for art-making as "an inquiry into the nature of reality". Based in recurring interests in "illustration of the written word or of interior kingdoms" and "painting and drawing from life," according to Frost, she has produced "two very different types of work”.
One type of work highlighting the powers of imagination, fantasy and memory is strikingly showcased in the series inspired by a rereading of Marcel Proust’s great novel In Search of Lost Time also known as Remembrances of Things Past. Frost envisions the series as an installation. Like the seven volumes of Proust, Frost's series-installation is lengthy and episodic bringing together content taken from the novel and incidents in some way commenting on that content taken from the artist's own experience. It consists of hundreds of variously sized canvases of various sizes with some put together into 'collaged formats'; others she lets stand alone.
In a new series of very large works on paper Frost is continuing to explore the dynamic relationship between memory and the way we see subjects we have a previous knowledge of she began considering in the Proust work. Filtered through the window of her own experience, Frost presents a highly personal vision of her formative years of the 1950s and 1960s. Made of paint and collage Broadway, Jack Fath Angel, Elsie Mendl aka Elsie de Wolfe, Ode To Freddie Mercury present lyrical visual tapestries-cum-stage sets filled with intriguing images carrying very special significance for the artist, while the rich compositions hold strong evocative appeal for the viewer.
In Broadway the totally enveloping experience of being in the audience of a musical with the music, the lights, the scenery, the stars, the chorus, the action, all are conveyed in a cacophony of colors, shapes and fragmented faces and figures. In Jack Fath Angel, Frost looks at fashion, the "New Look" of the structured dresses and suits coming from Paris determining the style of dress for New York women in the 1950s through early 1960s. The title "Jack Fath Angel" refers to the "New Look" design of the female statue, and is a play on the name Jacques Fath one of the most influential designers of the Paris-originated "New Look." The fairy-tale like scene of Central Park with buildings glittering in the distance brings to mind the fashion-conscious New York paintings of 20th century American artist Florine Stettheimer (1871-1944) who like Frost delighted in combining in a single composition several actions taking happening at different times and places. Below the glittering city are images of police accompanying children reminiscent of school desegregation events shown on TV and in newspaper pictures at the time.
The title of Elsie Mendl aka Elsie de Wolfe refers to the celebrated 20th century American interior designer also known as Lady Mendl. The emblematic faces and figures surrounding the abstracted references to furniture and lighting impress as metaphors of change and transformation which is after all what interior design is about. Frost may be examining her early awareness of aesthetic environments and beauty in this provocative work. In Ode to Freddie Mercury, Frost may also be noting how important rock musicians were to teenagers during the 1960s as beacons of personal independence and growth in her brilliant evocation of a garden paradise filled with light, flowers and angels rendered in praise of the colorful awesomely talented, universally celebrated Mercury, lead singer of the group Queen.
The intensity of ideas feelings and sensations permeating these paintings make them among the most compelling Frost has done. For her and us, autobiography is the stuff of bold, liberating expression. Viewer to artist: "Keep on delving!"