Texts from Dr. Wiebke Steinmetz

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

Chinese Version

Text from Dr. Frank Laukötter

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

Conversation with Marina Beeck
Meta Marina Beeck: You have employed numerous different techniques and explored numerous artistic genres, and have now arrived at what are known as ‘Spray Paintings’. How do you trace your artistic development, starting with your early weaving, progressing to your current spray paintings? When did you do your first spray painting?

FB: My first painting was completed in 1999, and was based on a collage. The collage was comprised of an advertisement bag which I combined with new words and shapes, which I then transferred onto an acrylic canvas with spray paint. My enthusiasm for experimentation, with both material, form and colour, led me to my final result. My early weaving - originally with wool, dyed fabrics, and later with steel strings and wires – was in some respects the beginning of this approach to my work. It is the materiality of these works which can be seen as a continuation in my works today. Besides weaving with materials such as wool and steel, I later explored materials such as nylon and fishing line as well in the following years, expanding my interest for synthetic materials, where transparency and three-dimensionality play a big role. The progression to painting and acrylic based work was achieved with the spray paintings.

ABC, 2000, steel mesh, 100 x 70 x 5 cm

MMB: How did the development of your motives come about? You just said that your first spray painting was completed in 1999, what did it look like?

FB: The title of my work “BLUMEN-TRANSIT-EUROPA” (flower-transit-Europe) is a new word combination, which links directly with fashion advertising. The term “transit” symbolises an opening up between east and west, as well as a movement back and forth. Both vehicles and passengers in transit, were commonly visible images at the time of the GDR.

BLUMEN TRANSIT-EUROPA, 1999, spray-paint on acrylic, 58 x 46 cm

MMB: How do you choose the advertisement material? Are there aesthetic criteria? I know that you have used plastic bags from the oil conglomerate Shell, which adds a political dimension to your work. Does that play a role? How do you arrive at the stories that you tell in your works?
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FB: My works often have a sense of humour. They also contain small series which I mould into collages, which always possess a humorous element, and yet also comment on daily events or are connected with my own biography. The advertisement images stand at the front, placing emphasis on them, with the stories following behind. Let’s take for example the characters of Damon and Susie, who have particular qualities and experience something specific within my collage and express it. When the ‘Damon’ piece with the Shell plastic bag first appeared, the oil company and its dubious activities in Africa was at the forefront of the daily news. In this respect, current affairs and the media have an influence on the themes and the motives of my work. I then take the logo of a large corporation like Shell, and place it in a new context.

We had problems, 1999, Spray-paint on acrylic, 110 x 80 x 5 cm

MMB: You have often said that some of your themes are autobiographical in the sense that they document journeys, just like the London series. One of the pictures from this series shows the funeral march of the Queen Mum in 2002, another one depicts a huge banner with the message „Imagine“ in Piccadilly Circus, as a homage to John Lennon, and finally Vivienne Westwood’s fashion boutique on the King’s Road. Do all these works come directly from you, from your own camera? There is also a ‘shop window’ series. So the question I want to ask you is how you decide to actually make a series? Do they simply develop by chance, or do they arise through autobiographical material, which then leads to a spray painting?

FB: When I travel I keep a graphical diary. I do drawings every day during the trip, and a certain characteristic arises from these recordings of the journey. This is a very personal exercise for me, and something that arises adjacent to my other works. These are however drawings that I have not yet exhibited. I develop the spray paintings at a later point in my studio, and model them around my drawings and photos, which are not necessarily done by me. I sometimes even ask someone to photograph a certain theme for me.

I experienced the funeral procession of the Queen Mother myself in fact. What interested me about this theme, was not necessarily the funeral itself, but rather the imperial pomp and circumstance; the guards dressed in red and black and the whole rhythm and choreography of the event. The British Empire arose and took shape on this occasion. That is something that I wanted to express. It was not about a creating a form of documentation, but rather to illustrate whatever features and aspects I could recognise.

In another picture entitled Kew Gardens (2011), I did not simply want to depict a beautiful south west London park, instead I wanted to capture its dynastic character and its relationship with nature. By incorporating words and my own texts into the picture, I try to find an expression which is not only a form of documentation, but which also questions and discovers something new.

Queen Mum, 2006, Spray paint on acrylic, 178 x 101 cm

MMB: The ‘shop window’ series and even the London series are self-contained series. When is a series completed, when do you add images, how do you interact with it? Do you then reach a point when you no longer have the desire to make any more shop window images?

FB: In regards to the ‘shop window’ pictures, they were a commission for an exhibition. I was already interested in this topic and then completed the series when the exhibition was official. I don’t work particularly fast since the pictures take up a lot of time. And I do not produce many pictures from this slow process either. I certainly don’t end up with a hundred pictures from the themes that I work on, often only ten. There are also often works which are developed within a series which do not even fit the cycle at all, such as small neon spray paintings, early sketches and other concepts of shop windows. The exhibition provided the framework for the ‘shop window’ theme, and my trip to London formed another series. There are of course also themes which stay with me all my life.

MMB: Let’s take a look once more at the work you did before your spray paintings. There is a work which depicts woven pieces of cake, and in an earlier series you also experiment with pig windows from old farms. How did you develop these themes?

FB: These topics always come to me from the outside world. In the case of the pig windows, it is simply due to the fact that I live in the countryside and many farms were demolished thirty years ago, and these cast-iron pig windows were also supposed to be removed. I collected the windows, worked on them with a drill and made a steel mesh to give them a durability. That was particularly interesting to me, as a comment on the changes of the countryside and the death of the farms.

MMB: You cultivate a kind of artistic exchange in many of your works with the commissioners and technicians. With the spray paintings you work closely with a company which produces your acrylic or aluminium bases. There is also a commissioned calendar of the Wümme River which has been in existence now for many years. It is a calendar which also acts as an advertising medium for a printing factory. To what extent do you come across new ideas through these collaborations? Do these collaborations play a significant role within your works?

FB: Yes, of course, I always like to work with commissioners. I also see myself as an entrepreneur in my own role as an artist. I particularly like the collaboration and the development of a project together, with a united input. There are certain challenges and restrictions which follow. I particularly like to work with experts, because I experiment a lot with different materials and consequently need advice. My work is often pioneering and in this regard collaborations are very important. The questions which arise when producing the calendar are often those surrounding the relationship between the original and the mass produced series; such as print colours, and also technical developments such as digitalisation play an important role.

Shopwindow I and II, 2008, Neon spray on paper, 22.5 x 33 cm

MMB: The Wümme calendar is based thematically on this specific region and its nature. You do not simply regard this calendar as a piece of commissioned work, but also as an experiment.

FB: We have developed the Wümme calendar for more than thirty years now, from what was a not much appreciated invention in the beginning, to what is now a highly respected product. I produce this commission every year, and when you work on a commission for so long, it gives you a high amount of flexibility, allows you to develop new questions, and constantly search for new, interesting topics. It has, as you yourself mentioned, a regional focus restricted to the small area surrounding the Wümme river.

I try to connect the countryside and even the home, with a spirit of modernity, romance, and experimental techniques such as spray paint. How can you create a relationship here? Is there one at all? Where do I find a common denominator between these two poles? It is with these questions in mind that I start working on the thirteen pictures needed for the calendar. Due to the relatively small format of the calendar pages, and the manageable number of thirteen pages, I try new techniques and themes. The calendar reaches its audience each year through its publication. The direct feedback that we get is also very interesting.

MMB: You recently got back from Dalian, where you organised and conducted a large exhibition in the Modern Museum of Dalian. You have been a key figure in the German – Chinese – Exchange for many years now. Your first exhibition took place in 1998 in the Goethe-Institute in Beijing. How much has China changed over the years?

FB: My first exhibition in Beijing took place at a time when I didn’t yet have a computer at home, which meant that I sent and received faxes from China at night, and the information that we did receive was extremely minimal. The only thing which we were told, was to include no sex, no violence, and no politics in the artwork. Just before the start of the exhibition I discovered that it was forbidden for Chinese female artists to display their installations in public. Because of this, I changed my whole programme and put together my installation “One hundred small boxes”. “One hundred small boxes” is based on a graphical drawing of the “Battle of Austerlitz” by Napoleon. With a table, makeup implements, a chair and the drawing duplicated on the wallpaper, I created a room. The “Battle of Austerlitz” is comparable to “the hundred small boxes” of everyday life.

My exhibition received a lot of attention at that time, as I was one of the first German female artists who had ever exhibited in China. In 1998, there were still no galleries and no museums in Beijing for modern art, or even a public art scene. Artists met in small private flats where artworks were pulled out from beneath their beds. That was extremely exciting. The prevailing themes of their artworks were single child families, the individual and society, the handling of the Cultural Revolution and the Mao era. The discussion of art existed at that time, and the exchange with the artists was incredibly inspiring, which is why I decided to transport art from China to Bremen in order to exhibit it, and in return to allow artists from Bremen to visit China. This is how the exchange started. Dalian was my fifth exhibition in China. Life is very fast there nowadays, but the exchange of art and culture has not necessarily become any easier unfortunately.

One hundred small boxes, Installation image, Goethe-Institute, Beijing, 1998

MMB: You always mention the big challenges that you faced in China, especially regarding the size of the galleries. How did you solve these problems?

FB: At the beginning of my art career, the exhibition halls were certainly not official rooms, and I was often given very little information about the exhibition rooms during my preparation.  The only thing that I knew, was that the rooms would be big. Official rooms were practically colossal at that time. It was during my second exhibition at the Teachers-University-Gallery in Beijing in 2000, where I first experienced such gigantic spaces. The Chinese side demanded a five meter long mural artwork, or rather a room was simply available to install such a work. This was a truly huge challenge for me, both in regards to the transportation of my work to China, and in regards to the implementation of my spray technique. I consequently completed my first spray painting on paper for this room. I have also presented an installation at every exhibition that I have shown in China, which has always created an interesting discourse with the Chinese audience.

MMB: Are there any new ideas or experiments with the materials that you work with, or are you still spraying on acrylic? There are however works which are forcing open the boundaries of classical images. With your newest works such as “Garden of Eden“, you are exploring installations once again. 

FB: From steel meshing, which indeed functions as a spatial object, to spray-paint. My spray painting has a back and a front side, and a three-dimensional quality to the images due to the acrylic. I therefore constantly work with space, which is why this sense of “forcing open the boundaries of classical imagery” is simply a natural continuation for me.

But I could definitely imagine that some of my works may transform back into weave or embroidery once again. Then the gap would close itself again. To turn modern spray-painting back to traditional practices. That is still a dream of mine.

MMB: one of your murals in Bremen, which you completed with a graffiti artist, has in fact become a much despised image for the city and for many residents. The mural became an installation in the town gallery of Bremen with an accompanying documentation of the work. How was that for an experience? What changes when you are working on a wall?

FB: This is not my sole wall mural. I see this experience as a constant process of field research. As an artist working alongside a graffiti artist, that doesn’t make me complicit in their acts, walking the streets at night and spray-painting walls illegally. The relationship when dealing with the particular canvas, be it acrylic glass or wall, and even the appreciation of word and writing, is after all something different. However, there are many overlaps: words and graffiti, and therefore spray painting and writing have a lot in common. Yet the choice of words that a graffiti artist employs is often different, dealing instead with lettering design and comprising fewer words. I concentrate first and foremost on the content. The mural on Heinrichstraße was implemented due to a successful proposal by culture board in Bremen. Tobi and I had a lot of fun, we both brought our music with us whilst working together.

The interview took place on 15.07.2015 in the artist’s studio.

Text from Dr. Katerina Vatsella

Frauke Beeck’s pictures have a unique charisma. On the one hand this is due to her technique. As a rule she sprays similar to the art of `verre eglomise`but uses acryl glass instead, sometimes aluminium, foil or paper. On the other hand it’s the special topic she’s interested in and the way she creates her pictures so that they radiate an often strange atmosphere.

As artwork Frauke Beeck frequently uses photographs she has taken over the years.The themes are not transferred one-to-one, she more or less likes to vary and alienate them. Even though they sometimes appear familiar they cannot be identified in detail.

Her pictures often show a special kind of colourfulness that leaves the impression that they are based on an original black and white model coloured by the imagination. The slightly angular contoured forms combined with soft colours and gentle tones as well as a special technique that bring about these results are characteristic.

In relation to her choice of motives and to her expression of forms Frauke Beeck’s pictures of recent years are based on the tradition of classic pop art. Clear, strong, flamboyant colours, rich in contrast, and motives from everyday life are characteristic. Above all she goes beyond this in her work.She integrates texts that are not only graphic signs or moving, flashing logos in the cityscape but have a quality of their own changing the concept of the picture and leading to a certain direction. They are texts of her own in a formal language but of a typically cheerful poetic diction, verses that are reminiscent of ancient songs or logos in commercial disguise that present critical comments. They undermine the often innocent looking motive by unexpected annotations and alienated references and thus provide a surreal character.

Humour and ease characterise the work of Frauke Beeck and often the subtleness and criticism appears only after the second glance. Her approach is peculiar. Frauke Beeck uses a technique of spraying that has been known since the sixties when wall painting and graffiti art appeared and developed it to perfection. She predominantly works with acryl glass and sprays on both sides of the transparent material. That creates special space and depth which gives the picture a singular vibrancy. Working with templates emphasizes that concept as it means stringency, a feature of forms which give the picture something striking, artificial, despite subtle shades.

Frauke Beeck’s pictures are based on impressions from everyday life. At this exhibition you can see several showcase pictures, 9 small-sized and some large-sized works she has created over the years from photographs of showcases she has taken in Bremen. Neon colours underline the curious bohemian impression.

Dr. Katerina Vatsella

Text from Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Manske

Pop is everything. Everything is Pop

Frauke Beeck is fluent in different picture languages and uses them multimedia-based. With her funbags and spray pictures developed from these she uses the collage, an extremely complex way of composing, formally as well as semantically, that was made one of the most fascinating forms of art in the 20 th century by cubists like Pablo Picasso and George Braque and dadaists like Kurt Schwitters and Max Ernst. The artist refers directly to the texture of popular picture languages like graffiti and comic and their electronic processing today; the external resemblance of her commercial models to her artistic transcriptions is a most intentional trap that makes her audience easily overstep the so-called threshold of fine art.

With this concept Frauke Beeck proves herself to be an intelligent and an extremely innovative border crosser between the world of commercial pictures and their adolescent addressees and an autonomous art that withdraws from superficial consumption.

She produces active platforms of relevance by means of common idiograms – in her “naïve” transfer pictures you find signs of violence that are often terms of commercially whipped up and thus deceptive expectations leading to disappointment. But the complex, permanent changing picture and language games do not want to teach, they focus on jokes and irony, on signs and music of an “underground” making the new buildings of yesterday and today collapse with relish.

Frauke Beeck’s direct ancestors are artists like Peter Blake and Richard Hamilton who were the first in the sixties to exemplify the metamorphosis of non-art into art and vice versa. Just as Frauke Beeck’s funbags could be called “functional art” the same or slightly modified compositions in her spray pictures are art. Among other things Peter Blake painted pictures of pop stars that could be used as record covers. The same applies to the early serigraphs of Richard Hamilton. Consequently Peter Blake created the most famous pop collage world wide with the cover of the Beatles’ lp “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and Richard Hamilton transferred the great tradition of minimalism in 20th century art that had started in 1915 with Kasimir Malewitsch’s black square on white ground, on the cover of the similarly well-known Beatles’ “ White Album” that consisted of white cardboard with “The Beatles” printed relief-like on it.

Looking at recent Chinese paintings, such as those at the Biennale in Venice 1999 striking parallels unfold with the close connection of culture and counter culture, even if national picture and political structures are very different. This difference makes Frauke Beeck’s art very modern in China.

Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Manske
Director of the City Gallery Bremen