compassionate melancholy – Family portraits, a tribute to loved ones.
Greet Schuit-Hamming, Art Historian
It is clear that the work of Francien Krieg consists mainly of portraits. Especially older women are her “pivotal works” It therefore seems that her paintings have only one subject. This is not the case. The private sphere of her beloved family also offers interesting possibilities. She projects her artistic vision for them and uses them to depict themes of birth, love, protection, education and child development. Over the last few years Francien has created a series of paintings, which stylistically dovetail into its overall work. This interesting new series came about by the birth of her long-desired second child, Benjamin. Strong emotion is evident in all these paintings, which characterise both herself and her family. The concept of the young family is artfully explored in the light of this introspection. She says about this series: “The growth of a child is profoundly beautiful, but also something sad for me, slightly melancholic, it adds up to what is fleeting.”
The series consists of paintings in different formats, in alternating soft and harder colours, containing exciting patterns and compositions. The paintings shed light on concepts such as birth and family, in which the symbolism of what passes is noticeable. Fields of perception for example contains a setting sun and in Dreaming about tomorrow there are flowers, which pull the viewer into the scenes. Objectively the thereby created spatial effect suggests depth. Subjectively considered flowers are symbols for all that is beautiful and fresh, but also eventually wither. How different the original painting Random, where the viewer’s eye is directed by sunny light streaks, curved bars that seem to hold the newborn baby’s body.
The unconventional painting Personal Identities, with a close-up presentation, reminds me of 19th century realism of Courbet with his provocative nude painting L’Origine du monde (1866). Showing a pregnant belly also dovetails with Paula Modersohn-Becker’s expressionist painting Selbstbildnis am 6.Hochzeitstag (1906). Personal identities is an unusual image to denote something definitive: new life and the unpredictable, continuous life that is subject to change thereafter.
The series of family portraits give a new and different impetus to Francien’s oeuvre. It matches the essential element of her work: she keeps in touch with her personal and primary creative urge, in which the human body is central and impermanence is the core. Moreover, she demonstrates the growing development of her talent. The essence of all her work involves the creation of an interaction between the viewer and the painting, the hallmark of fine art.
I paint myself
The truth is that I paint myself … and therefore the battle of my own body with age, my own fears, and my fascination with death.
That fascination began at an early age because my father was preoccupied with death. His mother passed away at a young age and the subject was taboo, nothing could be said about her death. This had such an impact on his thoughts that as an adult he conducted a thorough investigation on whether there is life after death. The voices of deceased people and the radio program The Black Hole with psychic André Groote filled the living room on Sunday afternoons.
His fascination also became mine, but this only became apparent years later when I was in art school. I made installations made of skins, meat heads, empty cocoons, and baby skins. What appealed to me was the contrast between the tangible and the intangible of the body, the familiar contrasts with the distance that I feel in my body.
The sudden death of a close friend during my time at the academy reinforced this feeling. The distance to my own body and my mistrust of it became even greater. Would my body also betray me in this manner? What followed was a long search that is still on-going, a search for the acceptance of transience.
In the early stages, I created paintings in which human forms were visible. I painted these in a detached manner: I removed heads, the bodies were decorative, eye-contact was almost non-existent, there was no contact with the viewer. As my work developed I became closer to the skin, from strange perspectives I showed the alienation to my own body. My fascination with the body deepened, I began to paint other people, especially those who deviate from the ideal of beauty. But even more, I really wanted to paint people like you and me, a universal image of the aging person.
Staying true to myself, I have confined myself to the female body.