Raymond Noesen - Artist

About Friday Fish

Friday Fish is the title I have given this group of paintings marking a one year period starting in October of 2019 and completed in October of 2020. They are the third generation of my koi paintings. The group consists of 52 paintings of koi fish swimming in the two ponds at Garfield Park Conservatory in Chicago, Il. Each painting measures 9” x 12” and were done using both oil and wax pastels and are painted on Colourfix paper.

Each week I created a koi painting.  On the Friday of that week, I posted the image on social media. Thus the title Friday Fish.

I began painting this koi grouping just after my one man show called Beyond The Surface at Indian Boundary Park in Chicago, Il.. This is the progression of that work. After the show, I wanted to paint smaller but wasn’t sure that my paintings would translate well into a small format. After the first painting, I realized that size was not an issue and committed myself to a one year long project. I was not trying to make some conscious or grandiose statement. Keeping it loose and concentrating on line movement and color is all that mattered to me. It is because of this that I have numbered the paintings and not named them.

I knew at the beginning of the project that, more than likely, there would be a change in the look of the paintings because they are not done using any real type of formula. Instead, each painting is dealt with on an individual basis and that creates different works based on how I feel or other outside forces. They are a visual diary of my year that included “Shelter in Place” due to the Covid-19 outbreak. I was half way through the project when Covid hit and the effects of shelter in place become very apparent starting at Friday Fish XXXI and ending with Friday Fish XXXV. Some of the paintings are soft and offer depth both visually and characteristically. Some are brash, with bold strokes of color in which the viewer can hardly tell they are images of fish at all. Just like life, each day is different but there is some key element that drives you. Even though each day may seem the same because of routine, it is really very unique.Though these paintings are not formula, there are constants. For instance, they were all done using reference photographs that I had taken of the two koi ponds. They are all vertical and of the same size measuring 9” x 12”.  They all share a similar pallet and the fish are all of a similar scale.

I see each painting as belonging to a grid. Maybe because I live in a city and that is what my world is composed of, or maybe it has something to do with my past occupation working as an artist for a company that decorates and restores large scale artwork for churches, theaters and other structures with high end decorative elements. In that capacity, my work, especially when it came to stenciling, had a great deal to do with the use of grids both in the making of the stencils as well as its execution. Regardless of how grids became important to these works, it is how I have always seen them. 


Fun side note. Near the end of the project I realized that one of the paintings is NOT from the two ponds at the Conservatory. Can you figure out which one it is?


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