Written by G Streat
This is what happens when it all comes together. The cultural phenomenon known as Southwest Atlanta. The influence of a religious upbringing. Getting one’s hands dirty in the great outdoors. Put them together and a natural curiosity about people, culture and life itself emerges. This is a small sample of the makings of Fred Andrews.
If anyone still needs evidence that old adage “talk is cheap” is inaccurate to say the least, look no further. When it dropped, The Matrix was revered for its action, cinematography, and costume design. Its dialogue and scenes are still referenced in some of your favorite memes. But the effect this production had on minds young and old is something else altogether. Some years ago, the quick rip of a movie ticket would forever alter Fred’s psyche, spark an insatiable hunger for existential revelations, and in turn his work as a digital illustrator.
Primed by a household appreciation of art, family values bestowed upon him, and what he would call the “natural world”, Fred has the makings of an existentialist seeded within at an early age.
“That’s the influence of my past”, Fred recalls. “Growing up, my grandfather had a farm. Just being in nature while he hunted, playing in the dirt, looking at nature, it was like getting enlightenment from the natural world.”
Truth. Beauty. Wisdom. Fred promotes these values with each stroke.
Inspired by times when “humans and the natural world had more of a connected bond”, Fred proclaims, “I do things that are kind of esoteric, pulling from the different religions and mythologies of the past and remixing it with my own brand.”
His words are clear. Spaced by an intermittent pensive pause, the rich vocals of his voice resonate through the room. His gaze is constant, unbothered and calm. What other mentality would you expect from the kind of person with the constitution and commitment gears to fight fires for a living?
“My art is not saying anything in particular. It’s more of me taking different elements and remixing them together. It transcends all of them but at the same time includes all of them.”
“What you’re looking at is Jazz.”
“Growing up in the south I had a very traditional Christian upbringing. It made me really curious as a kid about spirituality. Was there more to life?”
Does art imitate life? Or does life imitate art? Maybe the idea that there’s a separation between the two is where we get caught up. A recurring motif in Fred’s work, it’s worth asking the artist what they mean to him.
“That archetype was burned into my psyche at a young age. As I’ve grown and matured, the angel is like this idea of joy and perfection and beauty and this otherworldliness. More than anything, beauty and perfection is what I think about when I envision the angel. And the transcendence of flight. It’s like this ideal to be reached for. Kind of like the maiden at the end of the quest, I guess. That gets to the core of my worldview.”
While giving insight into his piece entitled “The Rebirth of Venus” all traces of nervousness in Fred’s responses fade away.
“That picture depicts Venus floating over the ground and what you have are four elementals actually grafting a body onto her soul. She’s standing over the elements that will bring that body into one form. But I wanted to pull from a lot of different traditions, so you have some people in poses that harken back to the Hindu, you have the mudras, the hand symbols representing each of the different elements on each of the figures, a lot of scared geometry in that picture, the flower of life, Metatron’s Cube, the platonic solids, all that stuff is kind of pulled in there. You have the dark and the light contrasting the yin and yang and of course you have some Egyptian type dress. You have temples kind of going back to ancient Babylonian or Sumerian style temples. I’m trying to pull imagery from a time period where man was just starting to mature and develop, what they call the Axial age.”
Truth. There are plenty of books out there written on the subject. Have fun with those.
Fred’s notion of truth is nameless, literally.
He explains, “The truth is kind of unreachable, in a literal sense. You can get truth that’s enough for what you need. I think any one perspective gives you enough for what you need. But when you start talking about absolute truths, truths that can studied, verified, repeated and quantified even in scientific terms, you start talking about stuff that’s really beyond the scope and grasp of human consciousness. It’s always just beyond your reach.”
There’s no follow up question being fired off. Taking it all in, the room is quiet.
He proceeds, “The only thing you can say about is, you can point to it, you can’t actually touch it. The truth is ineffable in that sense, it’s unspeakable. You can point to it. You can kind of feel it. You can sense it. You can even probably even experience it on some kind of mystical level. But capturing it and feeding it back to someone as an absolute, I don’t think you can do that. It’s ineffable. That’s why Jesus even spoke in parables to kind of point to the truth instead if lying it all out. It’s beyond the grasp of mortal minds.”
Fred’s existential sensibility is not just at the core of this work.
“I draw with the desire to provoke questions about life, love and the universe in the hope that it might spark my favorite types of conversation and add a little bit of beauty while I’m here.”
It appears to be very thing that powers his thoughts. Nothing short of fearless, Fred continues to defy convention and somehow remains resolute while examining taboos, all while staying true to himself. One can only image the type of revelations this kind of drive will produce for him.
“One of the things I say on my website is that I draw with the intention of creating the conversations that I’m interested in having. I create art with the intention of sparking questions about love, life and the universe. Those are the kind of conversations that I like to have. Those conversations strike to the roots of things.”
As to the “why” behind Fred’s favorite conversations, he offered this.
“I think the questions are more important than the answers sometimes. I’m agnostic and I think that we live in the mystery. It kind of goes back to what I said before. Truth is ineffable, you can’t touch it. You can only really point to it and elude to it in poetry. That’s what I feel like my art is, poetry eluding to those higher truths that we can experience and feel but you can never really say enough to capture what you really experience. That applies to all of them, life, love and beauty.”
It’s almost like Fred goes into this other mode when he really goes in. Even as he offers critiques on popular culture, he does so without condemnation or judgement. With wisdom and scholarship seemingly beyond his years, this is where his path has lead him.
He shares, “The universe is not just planet Earth and it’s definitely not just your city or town, so it’s important to balance your local upbringing out with a more cosmic open and mysterious type of perspective as well. You need both because you have to function in society but I think it’s important to step back and see things from a different perspective sometimes.”
Only time will tell where Fred’s quest for truth leads. We look forward to the milestones, the new work, that comes through his hands as he reflects the ineffable.
To find more of Fred's work, visit his website www.artofwarstudios.wixsite.com/aows