Biography: Frederique Stref


Overview: Maximum of 120 words for a short bio.

French artist Frederique Stref, inspired by her father’s passion for molten glass and childhood in her hometown of Nancy, France (the spearhead of the Art Nouveau movement founded in 1901) combines her love for nature, scents, movement and textures of natural objects with wax and mediums inspired by her extensive travel throughout Europe, Hong Kong and now Singapore. Frederique has combined Art Nouveau with the ancient Greek technique of encaustic painting to produce almost lifelike artwork. Frederique manipulates the glass texture of scented wax to produce encaustic paintings that not only please the eye but that become an experience for the viewer using all their senses.


Biography: Frederique Stref

Frederique Stref was born in 1967 in Nancy, France. Frederique grew up in a creative atmosphere due to her father’s love for sculpting, painting, building and craft-working. She had many opportunities to explore several art techniques. Her father specifically enjoyed using the famous Pate de Verre medium used by DAUM, also very well-known in Asia for the beautiful sculptures. Growing up in Nancy, a city known for its late baroque and art nouveau landmarks, instilled in Frederique a natural passion for ‘Art Nouveau’, a movement founded in 1901 by Emile Galle, Victor Prouve, Louis Majorelle, Antonin Daum and Eugene Vallin in Ecole de Nancy.

Frederique would regularly visit family in the French Riviera throughout her childhood and teen life. She had come to love the sea, plants, minerals, old stones, perfumes and especially the daylight of the region which had seduced and inspired popular artists such as Picasso, Renoir, Matisse and Cezanne. She learned to think outside the box and experience the true beauty and essence of nature. The rough touch of tree bark, smooth orange stones in the ravine and the glorious smell of eucalyptus, pin parasol, olive tree, murier and chene vert in the air had a powerful impact on uplifting her mood. Her lifestyle contributes to her continual awareness of her surroundings and fuels her ever inquisitive nature – which remains a very important part of her current and previous jobs.

In 1996 Frederique decided to move to Brussels as her desire to learn more about art and architecture continued to grow. Brussels was a hub for Art Nouveau with architects like the unparalleled Victor Horta at the forefront – no style intrigued her more than the graceful curves and natural forms of the movement.

In 1998 Frederique made the move to Copenhagen and then onward to Den Haag, where interior design, art and architecture combined to form a new perception, thus building upon her already existing Art Nouveau foundation.

Travelling to London was a particularly special development in her artistic journey as she spent what felt like hours gazing at one of Mark Rothko’s inspiring works at the Tate Modern Museum. A moment where time stood still while listening to “Kind Of Blue” by Miles Davis in her Walkman. Such experiences as these leave an imprint on both the heart and mind, easily forgotten with the daily motions of life but which come to the surface every now and then when a still moment is found in the day.

These are rare moments in life that cannot be planned but are forever treasured and kept in a safe place to go to when life goes astray. When travelling in Hong Kong she stole another of these rare moments when discovering a painting of Natvar Bhavsar in a local gallery. Her inquisitive nature drew her into the painting and kept her captivated in an intense kind of meditation, outside of time and space.

Frederique pays great attention to detail and takes everything into consideration when creating one of her artworks. She takes into account contrast, density, surface, roughness, structure, light and is amazed by the ‘transformation’ – the effect a subtle modification can create.  She captures time with her camera, taking pictures of rippling water, wet and dry sand textures, rough tree bark and curls of hair. She is impressed by the movement she sees in intimate objects.

After leaving Europe 10 years ago to live first in Hong Kong and now in Singapore, she has had the opportunity to step back from work and concentrate on bringing the best out of her life experiences and encapsulate them in her works of art.

Encaustic artwork, discovered whilst on a trip to Amsterdam, reminded her of home due to the startlingly life-like presence of the finished work. After much research, she found that this ancient technique dated back to the Greek period. Encaustic is a Greek word meaning “to heat or burn in” (enkaustikos). The medium used was natural bees wax and dammar resin (crystallized tree sap). This technique immediately struck a chord in Frederique’s heart taking her back home to her father’s molten glass workshop and her time spent out in nature in the French Riviera. To combine the malleable medium of wax with natural objects has become the perfect way to express her soul on wood.

After finding the medium to express all she had accumulated over the years, Frederique searched desperately for someone to train her. Amazingly that encaustic master lived and taught in the very place she loved the most, the French Riviera! Life can be so surprising sometimes and it took her right back to the start but with many memories and emotions to draw upon this time around. Frederique travelled back to this familiar and much-loved region ready to write a new chapter in her book. Her encaustic master became a well of knowledge which quenched her thirst and grew her talent and technique. His decades of experience with wax and encaustic artwork instilled a firm foundation with which to build her own take on this expressive technique.

Today, Frederique works with the unique material of wax and pigments. This medium offers her a way to build structure with changing colours, light, transparency, opacity, embedding several effects and levels of depth all using one material. It is the ideal substance to express her past, her love for nature, malleable materials and combine Art Nouveau with the ancient encaustic technique. Of course, mastering this ancient medium requires both creative and technical skills but has become a labour of love.

Abstract art offers the freedom to let the soul go; what comes out of the medium and onto the canvas is ever changing and inspiring. There is always a different story to be told as our state of mind determines how the artwork will evolve. There must be a connection between all four aspects of the creation process – the materials, the technique, the canvas and the artist. You can learn much from yourself when gazing at the ever-changing surface of the artwork. Captured in the moment and present in the “Now” you can smell the fragrance exuding from the artwork and feel the textures of the varying elements contained within it.

Special thanks to Rudy, Gary and Charlie, who became her soul, hands and an extension of her eyes. They gave her the confidence to “dare” and have brought Frederique to a new level of creativity which will soon be introduced…