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Frans Franciscus

Photographer, painter & sculptor

A selection Franciscus' body of works.

Q: Where would you start if you portrayed me in an image? Light? Form? Color? ...?

A: That depends on whether I make your portrait as an autonomous work or on commission. In autonomous work I can let my imagination work freely and I don't have to wonder who or what you are. The final outcome doesn't have to look like you and I can put you in any environment I want. On commission, I want to know exactly what kind of person I am painting. Clothing, environment, attitude and atmosphere are in consultation. I don't necessarily have to take pictures for an autonomous portrait. I just start with painting on canvas. For an assignment, all kinds of rituals precede the first strokes on the canvas.

Q: When you make the portrait, are you aware of it as if it is a public image?

A: Without an audience, there is no image. I am very aware of that, so with my art, I first want to caress the retina. Then, when I have their attention, I hope that the layering of my work intellectually challenges, surprises, and moves the audience. That goes for everything I make. Painting, ceramics, and photography.

Q: As a portrait maker, do you discover and reach out for someone to portray, or do you let the portrayed person come to you?

A: Both. I let them come to the studio, but I also like to visit them in their biotope to find out what kind of meat I have in the tub.

Q: Is a portrait a performance?

A: Yes. You have to give the client the idea that they are getting exactly what they came for. And that often seems more like a performance than I would like.

Q: Is a portrait meant to be looked at for a long time?

A: Portraits in particular should last a long time. From generation to generation. I am very conventional in that regard. Portraits are for eternity. And because I think so, I work on portraits perhaps the longest and most contentiously.

Q: How do you deal with the concept of time and space within your methodology as a visual creative artist - and do you deal differently with this within the identity of the images you create?

A: I try to contribute to the discourse on topics such as racism, discrimination and the disturbing changes of our climate by connecting history to the present day, and using art history and the past as a universal visual language in all my works, including portraits.

Q: Do you use a recurring, conscious strategy to arrive at an image?

A: Yes, this especially applies to my photographic portraits. In close collaboration with husband and artist/graphic designer Rienus Gündel Franciscus, I have started to create carefully crafted montages from raw digital material, originally intended for painted portraits. These are influenced by Memling's portraits. In terms of content and quality, the works came surprisingly close to my painted works. We exhibit them under the name Franciscus & Franciscus. By working with digital material, we can obtain a refinement of details, sophisticated postures and extreme sharpness/depth, and adapt them with our own hands. In doing so, we create a surreal and nostalgic-looking world. Everywhere we are, we photograph background material to obtain an archive dedicated to these works. With today's digital capabilities, we can achieve unreal dramatic effects. A special method was created to record our models. Heads, hands, clothing and objects are photographed separately so that we can later forge them together into a perfected posture. We paint with light; work in many layers and adjust colors and composition. Until the 'story' that we want to tell with the portrait is complete.

Q: During the portrayal process, are you ever concerned with what the subject will think of the portrait?

A: All the time. That makes portraiture a nerve-racking activity. And I'm not just concerned about what the sitter thinks. The environment, the family, are often harsh in their criticism. But it fits. And I have never made a commissioned portrait that was rejected by the client. But it remains exciting.


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