about the artist

Kathryn Freeman: The Work of a Modern Magic Realist Painter

Kathryn Freeman is a narrative figure painter who combines classical composition with magic realism. Freeman’s paintings and drawings have been exhibited in New York, London, Los Angeles, Boston, Washington and other cities in the United States and Europe. Her paintings are in numerous private and public collections and she has completed several large-scale public murals as well as private 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, who works in oil on canvas in addition to gouache and pastel, began exhibiting her art with the Tatistcheff Gallery in New York 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, showing such works as “Goldfish Pond,” “Lady in Pink with Trained Rabbits” and “Counting Sheep.”

Between 2003 and 2005, Freeman completed two three-story murals that grace the main staircase of the new 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 continues to live and paint in Maryland and has broadened her work to include writing and illustrating books for children and painting narrative portraits. She is currently represented by Longstreth-Goldberg Art in Naples, Florida.