Fransie Malherbe Frandsen
Fransie Malherbe Frandsen
“We don't so much get to choose our subjects as our obsessions choose us"
Fransie Malherbe Frandsen was born in South Africa. After studying art and graphic design in Denmark and the United Kingdom, she completed a post-graduate in Art Pshycotherapy, a sector in which she operated for several years. She currently lives and paints from her studio in Geneva, Switzerland. In addition, Fransie writes and illustrates children's books. Fransie’s work is strongly influenced, not only by the memories of her childhood in politically challenged South Africa, but also by her experience, as Art Psychotherapist, in working with troubled and marginalised individuals. The recurring theme is the analysis of power in its different forms, especially in terms of abuse, in our society. Starting from Karl Marx's statement " religion is the opium of people", Fransie introduces a philosophical reflection on the humans' need, since the very beginning, to look for an answer on the origin of life in the concepts of a God. Religion can in fact take an obsessive connotation, sometimes even dangerous, when the idea of faith is distorted and used as a tool to justify other types on interests, like conflicts or the violation of fundamental human rights. The strict respect for dogmas can, as a matter of fact, lead to a one-sided approach which can become fanaticism and negation of the individual personality and will. These artworks reflect the artist's profound sense of empathy for the neglected, especially children, with the aim of giving voice to their pain and their desperate need to be heard. The obsessive attention to violated rights and the representation of shattered lives finds its expression in the frequent use of elements such as birds, dragonflies and butterflies that become symbols of the desire for rebirth and redemption. Fransie uses mixed media and digitally altered images, which are then manually transferred onto the board. Layers of acrylic paint and glazes allow Fransie to create compositions where the depicted objects and people seem to have the chance of living a new life; in this way the artist is willing to offer her characters a second chance.
Critical review by Senior Art Curator Erika Gravante
Collage appeared in contemporary art in the early 1900s, especially with Cubism and Surrealism, two of the artistic currents most prone to visual and technical experimentation in the last century. This technique has great appeal because collage by nature breaks the mold, in practical action but also in form and content, breaking down reality and tangible things to compose impossible photographs of imaginary moments. Fransie's collages in addition have the element of painting as an aesthetic binder of those images (parts of) chosen by the artist. The colors are terse, the light created as a thin layer whose task is to repel and attract at the same time. Fransie's works of art are of immediate assimilation, the main aspect of her aesthetic is seen again in her paintings and in her search for the elements to be relocated. A vaguely vintage allure lingers but does not stress the eye; on the contrary, it attracts it as if to a familiar environment. The small phrases that are added to the image seem to sneak into the painting and the artist's thoughts to whisper their presence. "When I am in front of the blank canvas, which is both stimulating and dismaying, an old philosophical problem haunts me: why is there something and why not nothingness? [...] For, indeed, who - apart from the artist - can produce meaning in an absurd world?" wondered Kiefer during the awarding, in Turin, of his Honorary Degree in Philosophy. And it is following this reflection of the great artist that we also recognize Fransie's work as a producer of meaning from the absurd and not the other way around. A research and artistic practice that is based on the right choice of the right technique, looking for the real, cutting it, tearing it, dividing its ways to compose a new and unexpected light.