Fransje Killaars: Color at the Center
January 26 - March 22, 2013
“Maine Mills Figures,” 2013, at Museum L-A. © 2013 Fransje Killaars/Photograph by James Aaron Helms/Courtesy of Bates College Museum of Art
Dutch artist Fransje Killaars creates installations with dazzling textiles that blur the lines between art, architecture, interior design and fashion. In this first large solo exhibition in the United States, with installation at the Bates College Museum of Art and at Museum L-A. Her installations at Museum L-A include bedspreads woven in the Bates Mill exhibit space.
I am fascinated and deeply affected by the power and effect of colour. Textile and colour are the prime media in my installations. I try to make an image you cannot describe, and which gives new experience and meaning to the space. Textile is tactile. Using textile as carrier of colour in installations adds a sensorial layer to the space that suggests a connection with our everyday life, and very naturally merges painting, architecture and fashion.
People, both mentally and in terms of physical scale, have always been central to my concept. In my installations I use textile very simply, much in the way that it is used in daily life. I often use hand-woven rugs of my own design, blankets covering a bed, fabric mounted onto walls and, recently, those same blankets draped over the human figure. I also deploy everyday items as artistic objects. Using fabrics in installations in such a familiar way invites visitors to enter and recognise the space, experiencing it afresh, charged with new meaning.
Using textile to introduce colour into an installation can evoke intimate associations. That kind of space echoes a personal desire for well-being. I am always searching for a new image and, with this, new experiences and meanings in art. Images you might not know, but which resonate with you, allowing you to escape everyday reality for just a moment.
In 1997, I made a book of fabric samples. A little later, I began applying them to directly to walls, often in the public domain. The first time I mounted swatches of fabric straight onto the wall was for a commission in 2000, in the lobby of the Fonds BKVB in Amsterdam. In recent years, I have alternated commissioned public art projects with autonomous installations.
In addition to my palette of primarily bright, fluorescent colours, I have also introduced a different palette, one that consists more of composite hues and motifs printed on fabric.
With this, I endeavour to explore the effect of colour and pattern on an image, and the role colour plays in shaping the image, in addition to the use of textile in my installations.
The appearance of the human figure is another new element in these installations. My work has always been based on the human form and scale. A consequence of installations integrating everyday items such as blanket-layered beds, a swing covered with blankets and cushions and rugs upon the floor, makes the appearance of the human figure now a natural progression. In most instances, I use a mannequin, another over-familiar tool from the garment and textile world.
I have noticed that it takes viewers a little effort to arrive at an artistic translation of this human form. Once the head is draped in fabric, in the same way I cover entire walls and beds with blankets and textile, viewers rapidly tend to give it a specific interpretation. A figure entirely enveloped in cloth often conjures up connotations of women wearing the burka, and with this, a link to social and political discussions. Of course, I also play upon this confusion and the various
visual meanings this image can elicit. I find it fascinating that such a range of interpretations can be sparked so easily by the organisation of textile. It throws into clear focus where a purely visual experience touches on associations with reality. And this renews my awareness of the power of textile as medium, a medium that everyone instantly recognises and that, within a fine art context, continues to behave idiosyncratically both as reality and as carrier of tactility and
colour. This is what I am currently working on. I have discovered so much that stems naturally from my concept, and is a challenging continuation of it.
This past year, I've been working on my monograph, Fransje Killaars, which offers an overview of the installations I've created since the 1990s. It includes essays on my work by Sven Lutticken and Bianca Stigter. The publication is designed by Thonik and published by 010.
A documentary on my work has also recently been released, made by Heddy Honigmann as part of the series Hollandse Meesters in de 21ste eeuw, September 2012, produced by lnterakt, Amsterdam.
Amsterdam, September 2012
About Fransje Killaars
Trained at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, Killaars began her career as a painter. Influenced by the works of Barnett Newman, Ellsworth Kelly, and Henri Matisse, Killaars is a Dutch artist with a recognizable, yet singular Dutch aesthetic. In 1984, the year she left art school, she became a studio assistant for the internationally recognized painter and sculptor, Sol Lewitt—another artist that left a lasting impression on Killaars. In 1990, just as Killaars was establishing a strong career as a painter in the Netherlands, she traveled to India on the advice of a friend, the first of a number of trips there that influenced her practice in profound ways. “Everything in this chaotic world [India] is colourful—the street is one huge overwhelming palette…through India I discovered the power of colour as a part of everyday life. I felt that it could be different, that you could live in those colours…” Killaars’ work has been exhibited extensively throughout Europe, and in Japan, China and the US, most recently at Galerie Zürcher in New York (2012) and MASS MoCA in North Adams, MA (2007). Her work is represented in many museum and private collections.
Fransje Killaars: Color at the Center - Reviews, articles:
Amsterdam artist's first U.S. show a rare opportunity
Review by Philip Isaacson, Maine Sunday Telegram - Feb. 24, 2013
Fransje Killaars: Sculpting with Textile
Article in Arts Hollans by New York-based critic/writer Paul Laster
Fransje Killaars solo exhibitions at Bates College Museum of Art and Museum LA – Lewiston, ME
Robert Kloos, "Orange Alert: Dutch Art Events" website/blog -January 25th, 2013