“A painting is a series of marks that join together to form an object or work over which one’s eye may freely roam.” -°©‐Pierre Bonnard
Jan Frank (b. Amsterdam, Holland) is a contemporary American painter that lives and works in New York City. He studied at the Univerity of Wisconsin and participated in the Whitney Independent Program in New York. Frank shared a studio with the painter Chuck Close and over the years has fostered relationships with artists such as Norman Bluhm, William da Kooning, Alberto Burri, Donald Judd, Carl Andre, and Phillip Guston.
Throughout his career, Frank’s work has reflected an investigation and appropriation of the line most commonly associated with the traditions of Abstract Expressionism. His drawings and paintings recall the organic, winding lines used by Willem de Kooning in his representation of fragmented figures, while congruently addressing the early influence of Piet Mondrian by expressing the value of positive and negative space. Acknowledging the fundamental presence of art history in Frank’s practice, art historian B.H. Friedman expounded that, “Whatever his influences…Frank is clearly an independent and original artist who celebrates important contemporary traditions leading to his unique images.”
The work’s sparseness is informed by minimalism, while it’s expressive streaks conjure references to cartooning and create jungles of intertwining brush strokes. There is no intentional imagery, only mark making. Expression is at the heart of Frank’s artistic ideology.
Frank’s work uncovers the paradox of how one might consider unleashing a harmonious unfolding of energies. Allowing for mishaps, he embraces their spontaneity, and thus capitalizes on the freedom he allows his hand. Through this process, Frank uniquely creates an underlying orchestrated chaos, which infuses his overall vision with character and vitality. These attributes provide the viewer with work that is tremulous, workmanlike and feverishly energetic, yet playful and deliriously fanciful.
Although a painter, Frank entered the New York art world with a large minimal video sculpture installation shown at The Kitchen, NYC and went on to show at Postmasters Gallery during the 1980’s. After showing in Amsterdam, at the Museum Fodor, Frank returned to the United States and joined international gallery Salvatore Ala. This placed him with the Arte Povera group, and also raised his prominence within the European art world. After Ala’s return to Milan, Frank continued to show with the RenatoDanase gallery, in New York City.
From 2009‐2011 Frank put together the “BLT Project” in New York City, where the “Kissinger” body of work was displayed. Soon after, he produced the notorious and widely acclaimed “Wiser than God” exhibition, which was mounted against the New Museum’s show “Younger than Jesus” and included such notables as Ellsworth Kelly, Louise Bourgeois, and Lucian Freud, among others.
In 2011, Art in America proclaimed Frank’s show at Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York third on its list of top ten painting exhibitions that year. Their senior editor Raphael Rubinstein explained, “Jan Frank’s paintings evoke Alan Saret’s delicate entanglements, Wol’s abrasive lyricism and de Kooning’s sensuality. It’s hard to believe he achieves such density with only ink and correction fluid…”
Currently Frank is working on a major retrospective of his work from the 1990’s, which will be published and shown at Kunstrimte Wagmans gallery in the Netherlands. He is also currently working on a book and prospective show with text by Glen O’Brien, titled “Jan Frank and John Chamberlain”. Jan Frank has received numerous awards, and his work can be found in major collections (both public and private) around the world.