City

Bremen, Hanover, Berlin, Pilsen, Prague, Klaipeda (Lithuania), Locronann (Brittany), London, New York, as well as Beijing and Shenyang – these are among the places where Frauke Beeck has taken photos, which have gone on to form the basis for her spray paint artworks. Since the end of the 1990s she has chosen to work with spray paint techniques, and has become truly passionate about it.

She pays particular attention to the presentation of popular culture of the cities in her works. Street fairs, carnivals, concerts, street musicians, public places, exhibition buildings, parades, sporting events, parks: the settings of her works are always public places and she reflects the cityscape and interconnection of the modern western world unequivocally. It is often young people who populate the urban landscape.

The inspiration for her cityscape artworks arises from an unconscious decision. For her, it is not about the reproduction of picturesque and touristic locations, but rather of passing locations and inspirations, as well cultural events which reflect an autobiographical experience. In this respect, she moves away from a traditional depiction of city life.

It is not about the spectacular, but about the peripheral, the passing moment; it is personal experience which is displayed. As Frauke Beeck herself notes: “nothing is too insignificant to be depicted”. These images of urban spaces always possess a certain universality, and communicate a modern attitude towards life with extraordinary intimacy.

She reflects the aesthetic and strategies of Pop Art in her compositions, which take everyday life, the consumer world, advertising and mass media as their source of inspiration. The combination of text and image is visible in even the first spray paint artworks. Frauke Beeck explores at the heart of her work the boundaries of traditional art techniques and the supposed baseness of  popular culture.

Her artwork draws a similarity with graffiti at first glance, but only has spray paint in common. Graffiti is a collective term for differing elements consisting of images, writing and other characters, which are sprayed in private or public places with or without permission. Particularly on walls, transformer stations, telephone boxes, underground railway stations, traffic signs, and public furniture, Graffiti is deemed to be vandalism since it is often done without permission. Urban art and Street art arose from graffiti and found its own place in museum collections. Frauke Beeck’s work is however by no means graffiti. Illegal spray-painting was never part of her artistic goal, despite the fact that she did indeed paint and spray house walls – but always in an official context. Her work is always sprayed onto solid supports with an element of painting.

She approached spray-painting in an autodidactic manner and transformed it into a highly sophisticated technique. She sprays lack or neon spray onto acrylic, paper or aluminium. She creates coherent compositions from the individual image segments using templates and masking. She also incorporates the randomness of the spraying technique into her works, including unplanned colours gradients. Her works are a result of a complex process of colour overlaying. The process of layering colours over and next to each other is meticulously thought through, and then sprayed onto the acrylic in a relatively quick spontaneous action.

The highly attractive quality of acrylic glass as the base for the artwork comes from its translucent quality. The works obtain a similar transparency, an unusual sparkle and expressiveness similar to traditional reverse glass painting, in which Frauke Beeck eschews confined contours.

In many of her compositions, she prefers to incorporate both text and image. This combination does not necessarily provide any specific message and many of her images cannot be interpreted with common sense. They seduce the viewer into looking closely, to identify places which reflect individual experience, or associations which arise from the text and image.

This interaction of image and writing has found a true form of expression in the so-called torn-poster artwork which has emerged since 2010. Frauke Beeck combines this with the decollage tradition of the fifties and sixties. Back then, posters which had been torn down in urban spaces by passers-by formed the basis for the production of new, aesthetically appealing artworks. In the tearing of the posters, new images are formed from the layers beneath. Image against image, writing against writing, and with this, message against message. News from yesterday is discovered and becomes a statement of today. Fragments of words create sentences of surreal poetry.

The torn images are copies of urban reality and simultaneously refer to the ambivalence towards vitality and the unrelenting transience of urban life. The fragments of writing and images in these torn images, for which Frauke Beeck found inspiration in Pilsen or Berlin, provide a pronounced aesthetic form and colour palette, which once again bespeaks the possibilities of the alluring beauty of spray-painting.

Wiebke Steinmetz 2015

Spray Pictures between Graffiti and Pop Art

Frauke Beeck works with a special self-developed spray technique that reminds one in a superficial way of graffiti art of western European cities and at the same time represents an independent authentic contribution to pop culture and paintings of the outgoing 20th century. Special about her method is the transmission of stylistic elements of graffiti art on traditional themes of painting and on social themes that do not seem appropriate for painting. This transmission succeeds because of her perfect control of a sophisticated technique of spraying.

Graffiti are pictures commonly scribbled or sprayed on facades, Telephone booths, lavatory walls and especialls railway carriages and underground trains that reflect texts and pictures in an understandable and reduced picture language. Starting in New York in the sixties graffiti culture spread all over the western world.. The spray paintings are ambassadors of a suburban youth culture. Around 1980 graffiti became socially acceptable and dominated zeitgeist together with rap and breakdance.They were sprayed on canvas and offered for sale in galleries.The upgrading to art was achieved. Leader of graffiti culture was the American artist Keith Haring who died in 1990. His graffiti are today’s topics for many different forms in theme and design. Due to growing commercialisation graffiti lost its creative and politically explosive force. In reflecting this historic development Frauke Beeck has intensively dealt with the technique of spraying over the last few years. She prefers acrylic glass – an innovative medium that corresponds outstandingly with the modernity of spray technique. Her motives are pictures from books, photos, magazines or self-made video stills.

Frauke Beeck reflects in her pictures 21st century reality, asking critical questions concerning pictures created by means of technical media by transmitting motives into painting in an aesthetical and highly artificial way. This process takes place in a manner orientated towards pop art, in a turning to trivial every day objects of mass consumption which occur as picture motives in her painting and thus mean an elementary approach to reality.

In some of her works Frauke Beeck shows pictures of city culture in black – white –brown colors, e.g.of London, that might as well be media pictures (Medienbilder). With plausible vocabulary familiar from commercials and consumption her pictures conserve amazing common comprehensibility.

The motives are precisely sprayed on the picture carrier and thus change their character as a result of the spraying technique: they appear forced, however, without the superficial appearance of advertisement pictures.Frauke Beeck has sprayed one series of pictures that look like newspaper pictures with corresponding captions. The layout is designed according to the print media but pictures and texts causally don’t belong together. They show a relation full of suspense, partly even absurd. By transmitting these pictures into the spray picture medium, often accompanied by intentional changing of colors, the media pictures are upgraded in a peculiar way, artistically modified and in a new interdependency.

Many themes of her spray pictures come from the music scene. She prefers musicians on stage and audience at concerts. The special atmosphere is authentically reproduced, something that would experience a diverging character and improper appreciation if it was transferred into traditional painting. Spray technique, however, transforms the subject authentically. The sequence of the moment of intensive experience is versified.

In addition to illustrations from the world of music Frauke Beeck seduces the viewer with seemingly idyllic pictures..Their beauty develops from the selection of motives and the perfect design of the surface in spray technique. On closer inspection you realize the deceiving idyll , it could just be a picture only existing in your memory and not in reality.

A similar overreaching loveliness can be found in animal pictures with rabbits, chicks, cats or lambs clearly expressed to the brink of trash. The mawkishness of design appeals to deeply humane impulses and impresses with the perfect imitation of materiality,e.g.fur or feathers of the animals. Contrary to the pictures of pop art by David Hockney, Roy Lichtenstein or Andy Warhol, who, in a reserved, cool, calculating attitude carefully avoid for instance each stroke of the brush that might reveal the personality. Frauke Beeck has developed an individual spray technique that has a matchless, sensually touching flow.

Adjacent to small-scale spray pictures on acryl glass the artist has recently concentrated on a project pointing to the roots of graffiti art. She has long been desirous of working together with a graffiti sprayer on a picture for a big wall. Prior to that Frauke Beeck designed walls, however, not with this artistical claim of the project. The wall picture should be designed together with Tobias Kröger, a sprayer, within the project sponsoring of Bremen’s Senator of Culture whereas Frauke Beeck did the design and Tobias Kröger added the writing-like graffiti. Despite being planned for 2005 the project wasn’t carried out that year but it was introduced in a smaller version on a wall of the”Städtische Galerie” in Bremen in connection with the exhibition “Unforgettable Moments”(2006). On the house wall located Rembertistr./Heinrichstr. (Bremen) the intimate small spray picture used as artwork emancipated to an openly visible large- scale display that, together with the graffiti scribble, seems to fit harmonically into the city scape. Pop art’s demand for alliance of art and life has been fulfilled.

Dr. Wiebke Steinmetz 2006