Countryside

In 2005, Frauke Beeck created her work of art entitled “Strawberry Curd”, along with her 2006 creation entitled “Strawberry” and “Neon Strawberry” - one subject, 3 variations; fruit is itself aestheticized in this case. The intense red is accentuated with its contrast to the green leaves and stalks. The yellow nuts are accentuated with neon yellow. These bright colours are accompanied with a background of neutral colours of beige, black and white.

People sometimes form the focus of the work, incorporating the strawberries into the composition. In this instance, fruit is depicted as something nourishing and not simply as something beautiful. The brightness of the colours bleed into the background both left and right, framing the redness of the strawberry curd in the centre.

We are sometimes presented with the distribution of strawberries between producer and consumer, from strawberry shaped stands. Forms of nature become forms of architecture. The stand is situated along a road, a juncture between urban and provincial space.

In all three circumstances, the pictures are imitations of nature, strawberries, and of people cultivating, harvesting, and eating strawberries, even blowing them up to the form of buildings, stating “here are strawberries!” The pictures do not simply imitate nature, but also culture; they depict the nurturing of flora and fauna, as well as the formation of display stands and the creation of paintings. The interaction of culture and nature is a key subject of the artist, as seen in her 2007 picture “Umbrella with Roses”, depicting an umbrella in a rose flower bed in front of a brick wall.

With Beeck’s displacement of humans and cultural artefacts to the fringes of her pictures, opting instead to highlight nature, her works lose the quality of genre painting and still life, and gain an element of landscape artwork, for example in her 2014 work ”barque”. Humans are just symbols, and the barque is virtually imperceptible, but nature is omnipresent and powerful. “Isle of the Dead” by Böcklin tells a similar story of the passage from this world to another. The text in the picture “barque” is as follows: “a barque lies on the water / a pale man stands inside / and the realm of the hereafter will last for eternity / fly away with haste, otherwise it will arrive soon”.  
Her 2009 artworks “Utas Forest” and “Forest”, have no trace of human beings. Both pictures deal with a romantic woodland solitude, from the shadows created by the cluster of trees, the light which passes through them, and from the beams of light and reflections. It explores the interrelationship between nature and culture, and aims to create and imitate the tree population through the arrangement and imitation of nature. The pictures show that nature is no longer presented to the modern viewer in pure ways, but as a subdivided, modelled and enacted landscape.
A founding example of the countryside being experienced as landscape comes in the form of Petrarch’s account of his journey up Mont Ventroux over 675 years ago. The shepherds who heard about his plans, advised him against it. For them, this land was useful for grazing their animals. The highest heights of the mountains, where nothing grows, was regarded as useless and ugly, a dangerous no man`s land. Petrarch was a poet, responsible for only himself, and not for cattle. He was curious about its appearance and description that he had read in Livius’ account of Phillipp, the father of Alexander the Great, who had ascended the Mont Haimon out of curiosity. Petrarch ascended the 1912 meter high Mont Ventroux just like Philipp, on the 26th of April 1335. This time old scene, which was still highly celebrated one or two generations ago, has now run its course somewhat with streams of scrambling trekking tourists. In 2010, a 13 year old boy climbed the 8842 meters high Mount Everest, as well as a 73 year old woman in 2012, and an 80 year old man in 2013. They walked a fine line between not being overwhelmed by nature, but achieving their goal, and hoping to experience something extraordinary.
The aesthetic category of the sublime has been more or less celebrated since the Romantic era, and particularly for the past four decades since it was revived when the postmodernists rediscovered it. There are pictures amongst Beeck’s oeuvre which touch on the sublime, for example her 2009 picture „blue forest“, which is a homage to the birch trees of her homeland in northern Germany, and her 2010 works „Bamboo“, which are inspired by her visits to China. A hallmark of these depictions of both eastern and western habitats is the tightly packed nature of these plants. They do not appear to be planted by and for humans. Humans are nowhere to be seen. These works have an impact due to their large dimension and powerful colours. The viewer stands virtually 1:1 in the front of the impenetrable thicket of bilious green and fire red. If the viewer imagines the process behind the pictures, about how Beeck created her pictures with spray-paint, they might not only see the forests but also hear them in the sonorous sounds of spray cans.

Dr. Frank Laukötter 2015