Exhibition Description


Ed Fraga
Tabula Rasa
Oct 25 – Nov 29, 2014

View images from this exhibit

Ed Fraga describes the work in Tabula Rasa:


Who knoweth if to die be but to live, and that called life by mortals be but death?

My work has taken on a process of reduction and simplification of both color and subject matter. Veils of white wash over color. Images emerge and at times dissolve. Some of the material I have chosen to paint on is impermanent, such as blueprint paper, newspaper, a plastic shower curtain and recycled glassine. The ritual act of painting on these materials is akin to the mandala sand painting practice by Buddhist monks. Although my work is void of the circle or geometric forms seen in the mandala, the spirit of purpose is the same—a rite of healing, summoning spirits to come and go.

Two works of art inspired me, one literary and one visual. The literary work is The Dead by James Joyce and the visual work is The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Tulp by Rembrandt. In Joyce’s short story, a cast of characters meet for dinner on a snow-covered January night to discuss Irish nationalism, music, religion and the departed. In Rembrandt’s painting, Dr. Tulp examines a cadaver as seven of his colleagues observe.

Other works represent an ongoing series of large scale paintings on blueprint paper once owned by architect John Hilberry. These were interior design renovations from 1993 for a sanctuary in Ann Arbor to serve several disparate purposes; a synagogue, a church, and an entertainment center. The color is more intense in these works as figures morph into spineless, gelatinous beings with tongues (phalluses) and perfectly parted hairlines.


Ed Fraga is a Detroit artist who obtained his Bachelor of Fine Arts from Wayne State University. He is a recipient of an Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Fellowship, a Kresge Artist Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts. His paintings are in the permanent collections of the Detroit Institute of Arts, Cranbrook Art Museum, the Flint Institute of Arts, the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Wayne State University, Oakland University, and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.