Having studied at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, sculptor Frans Muhren (born 1949) has worked with all kinds of materials. Now he mostly uses iron, as it helps him articulate his personal themes effectively. Being a painter as well, Frans often uses colour on his sculptures. Additionally, he makes mobiles (that is, kinetic sculptures).
Visually appealing, Frans’ works are also philosophically deep. His major themes are movement (or the suggestion of it), contradictions (such as heavy and light, convex and concave, abstract and epic) and the possibilities of matter.
“I also like to tell small stories and etch characters in my sculptures,” writes the artist. “In my work, I sometimes refer to the history of art, or culture in general. In some of my sculptures you can see the influence of painters such as Mondrian and the movement De Stijl. My favourite sculptors are Giacometti and Calder.”
A few samples with stories—
This is an homage to the free spirit. As an ordinary mortal, the thinker is chained to his earthly existence, but in order to investigate the true nature of things, in his imagination he travels everywhere, reaching out to the infinite.
Man of Constant Sorrow:
A partly surrealistic composition about a way of surviving, inspired by pictures of the Third World where you see people carrying gigantic loads of all kinds of things on their backs. With scattered punched texts on the surface. The title refers to an American folk song, performed, among others, by Bob Dylan.
A motel on the road to hell, after The Eagles: “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave!”
Frans’ notable series are “Reveries”, “Streamers” and “Standing Figures”. The Reveries are about contemplation, time and space. The small figures in it are mummies. They represent the desire to keep a personal memory alive amidst evanescent time and indifferent space. The rusty iron structures reflect the silent poetry of impermanence. Streamers depict a search for different forms. Their sizes and thickness vary. Some of them, with mathematical elements like squares and rectangles, are meant to show Cubist traits. Standing Figures have recognisable parts (such as hands, animals, geometrical symbols) but, in essence, they are abstract sculptures which, hopes the artist, the viewer will make sense of through stories of their own.
Images used with permission.