Painting in the expanded field
Erik A. Frandsen is a painter who, like many of his contemporary colleagues, does not restrict himself to painting on a canvas. His paintings belong in an expanded field. Throughout his career Erik A. Frandsen has constantly, with great inventiveness and artistic sensitivity, gone beyond classic boundaries of painting. His paintings unfold either as installation or three-dimensional object – or as a reworking of painterly problems.
Erik A. Frandsen’s works thus encompass an array of different strategies and materials. In his early paintings he applied a variety of objects: Rockwool, lead, plastic trays, photos, eggs, steel wire, and neon tubes. This was done to avoid mere decoration, and to add a vehicle for meanings – or to block for them. He has become famous for his photo series taken of him and his wife embracing with lights affixed on their hands. The camera’s long exposure time transforms their caressing into white painterly strokes in the images. He has made statements in neon tubes; made paintings in the colour palette of photo negatives as well as lustrous exclusive mosaics made in the antique traditional style of Venetian smalti.
Erik A. Frandsen has always been interested in people and life, and he has an eye for strange stories and distorted views of reality. Thus the figurative is prominent in his art. However for Erik A. Frandsen art is a duality, or a “double space”, of figure and structure, positive and negative, physical objects and abstract forms challenging each other, and thus creating tension in his works.
“Frozen Moment Desert”
This duality is maintained in Erik A. Frandsen’s installation of his recent works at Faurschou Beijing. “Frozen Moment Desert” is an installation in two rooms.
One room is devoted to his steel works. Large steel plates are engraved with flower motives. They are literally ‘cool’ paintings done without any colour, canvas or brush, but ‘painted with a drill’. And they are truly “frozen moments” as the flowers are captured in a specific state of their short life.
The other room is a visual bombardment of colourful large format paintings. These images could be said to have been ‘painted with photographs’, as they have their origin in snapshots from the artist’s many travels where something seen or experienced is captured in a “frozen moment” by the camera and later reworked into these large scale paintings.
Erik A. Frandsen’s beautiful stainless steel flowers are though not only decorative. It is easily detected, that they are simple wild flowers, weed, even cannabis, if not memorial wreaths from Sachen-Hausen or withering lilies.
In an art historical context the flower motive has sustained as a symbol of beauty, sensuality, life, death, and vanity, and Erik A. Frandsen has earlier applied the flower motive as an ambiguous symbol in his artistic exploration of intimacy, relationships, and home life.
His images with flowers are classic memento mori-motives – but in a new form. The cool steel reflects the flowers that are projected into the images, thus preventing the viewer from reflecting himself without at the same time seeing the flowers. In this way the works acquire an extra dimension when making the viewer aware of his own role in an art universe – thus connecting art and reality.
Images of a contemporary visual culture
Art and reality are likewise connected in the reworking of the photographic images from our everyday reality into the mediated reality of painting.
Erik A. Frandsen obviously points to a shift in the pictures expression and meaning when an episode of waiters washing out door chairs, are blown up to the format of almost 3 x 4 meter.
Many of Erik A. Frandsens images are of his wife and children and have the character of a personal family album, which they are not. The photographic reality is a constructed reality – which is what Erik A. Frandsen’s succeeds in making us pay attention to.
Everywhere in his images one finds symbols and objects from contemporary visual culture: Coca-Cola bottles, Marlboro cigarettes, Mickey Mouse, Spider Man, and the boxing gloves’ “Stars and Stripes”. It is a way of visual commentating that goes back to Rauschenberg’s and Warhol’s silk screens. In Erik A. Frandsen’s works these motifs are though not isolated, but recirculated as part of the visual reality of today.
With their humorous, unconventional, and astonishing contents, Erik A. Frandsen’s works are thought provoking. His choice of aesthetically beautiful materials such as mosaics in Venetian smalti, large scale paintings, or shiny engraved steel plates makes these existential moments both disturbing and an aesthetically pleasurable experience.