Kathryn Freeman: The Work of a Modern Magic Realist Painter


Kathryn Freeman is a narrative painter who combines classical composition with magic realism. Freeman’s paintings and drawings have been exhibited in New York, London, Los Angeles, Boston, and Washington DC. She has works in numerous private and public collections in the United States and Europe, and she has completed several large-scale public murals as well as privately commissioned paintings and portraits.

Freeman’s career as a painter began when she lived and worked with her uncle, the American landscape painter Robert Jordan, in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. She continued her studies at the University of New Hampshire and completed her Master of Fine Arts degree at Brooklyn College in New York, studying with Milet Andrejevic, Lennart Andersen, Philip Pearlstein and Joseph Groell.

Freeman began exhibiting her art with the Tatistcheff Gallery on 57th Street, New York City in 1983. Her first show with Tatistcheff was made up of figure compositions inspired by her Brooklyn neighborhood.

She left New York in 1984 to live in Warsaw, Poland, with her husband, journalist Matthew Vita. Freeman was inspired by the symbolism and allegory characteristic of Polish culture as well as the architecture and public parks in Warsaw. Among the paintings she executed during this period are “A Street has Two Sides,” “A Place in the Woods,” “Approaching Winter” and “January Thaw.”

Freeman moved to London in 1987, living first in Primrose Hill, where she painted “Virtues of Air” and “Black Bird Fly.” In 1990, she moved to the Highgate neighborhood and fell in love with Hampstead Heath, where she spent many hours drawing and doing preliminary studies for her large-scale figure compositions. Some works from these years are “Upon a White Horse” and “Stolen Tartes.”

Freeman returned to the United States in 1993, moving to Chevy Chase, Maryland, outside of Washington, D.C. In the months after her move, Freeman completed a series of six paintings titled “Toward a Peaceable Kingdom.” Set at the National Zoo, the series captured Freeman’s reaction to her return to the United States after 10 years abroad. “The Gates to the Kingdom” was the central painting in this series and in her subsequent exhibition of the same title at the Tatistcheff Gallery in 1994.

After the Peaceable Kingdom paintings, Freeman turned away from streets and parks and went back to one of her favorite subjects, the narrative interior, or what she calls “the painted story.” In 1998, Freeman had another solo exhibition at the Tatistcheff Gallery that was titled “Sense and Sensibility.” Works that were included in this show are “Piano Lessons,” “Arbor Day,” and “Full Moon.”

After this show, Freeman went outside for her subject matter again, but this time into the allegory of the garden. Freeman exhibited for the sixth and final time at the Tatistcheff Gallery in 2003 at their Chelsea location, showing such works as “Goldfish Pond,” “Lady in Pink with Trained Rabbits” and “Counting Sheep.” The Tatistcheff Gallery closed its doors in 2005.

Between 2003 and 2005, Freeman completed two three-story murals that grace the main staircase of the Main Public Library in Jacksonville, Florida, designed by A.M. Stern Architects. The two monumental murals reflect the art, architecture and music of Jacksonville, in “Springfield Composition” and the literary history of the area in “Allegory of a Library.”

Freeman’s show at the Jane Haslem Gallery in Washington DC in February 2014 was a comprehensive exhibition combining paintings from the Dream Interior Series along side Stories from the Woods, a group of paintings that were exhibited with Freeman’s poems of the same title. 

Freeman’s work is represented on Artline, an online reference of artists and dealers, which was conceived of and launched by the reknown Washington DC gallerist, Jane Haslem.

Freeman continues to live and paint in Maryland and has broadened her work to include writing and illustrating books and painting narrative portraits. She is currently represented by Dog & Horse Fine Art in Charleston, South Carolina.