An artist in his true nature is made of incomprehensible multitudes; he is the untidy culmination of a shaman who is not believing but praying, a scientist who is not searching but analyzing, an engineer who is not building but inventing, and a child who is not playing but dreaming. He exists in the paradoxical state of attempting to capture his own vast inner perceptions of reality in the confines of the outer world. His artwork is mystic ritual, scientific model and applied philosophy.
His process may be compared to how priests or shamans work while praying. His art springs forth in a way similar to the emergence of holy offerings, that is, from a deep internalization of and total commitment to the unknowable source of everything. Despite this comparison, Franzen’s work remains immanently non-religious. While his process and product may be relatable to religious performance, his muse is rather the concept of the ‘Human-Universe-Executer.’
The ‘Human-Universe-Executer’ can create ad infinitum from the pure energy which he attempts to command. One act, one stroke, one move represent, in essence, all creation. Each further act is merely a repetition of the first and considered redundant. The artist must wrestle with how to accurately convey the fact that the urge to create is, rather than being inconsistent with nihilism, is intimately allied with it.
Shi Tao formulated the principle of one holistic brushstroke as a medium for the articulation of a non-dualistic cosmos. According to this principle, the ‘Human-Universe-Executer’ and the observer achieve a kind of transcendence through the creational act. The one act is thus the most central concept upon which the work relies. In turn, his work reflects the void as source and muse of life itself.
Franzen’s art can be seen as a spiritual mindset or mystical conception which has been adapted from Japanese Taoist and Zen philosophy. In these traditions the void is genesis and the all-enlivening power. As a source, it extends beyond the non-corporeal, nameless and unborn state of life. Franzen’s inspiration is ultimately a cosmological perception of this all-enlivening energy which can be felt only from a zero-state of intention.
I am not intending to make profane statement; my art is not rooted in political, economic, or ethnic propositions. Rather, it is about the principles of genesis itself and how these principles may be used in a contemplation of a zero state of mind. My works are not loud, noisy and shouting. On the contrary, they listen. They are referential and reverential of life’s original essence. My work is a return to the very beginning, where the purest form of life resides.
I have consistently found that the further one’s distance from the worldly, identifiable and easily understandable concepts, the closer one comes to realizing nothingness in the mind. This state of recognition is common among the creator and the observer as the art has inevitably reduced the motif, technique, and concept to the abstract level of purified aesthetics.
A monochromatic minimalism is required of the form in order to reach further towards pure emptiness. This imparts on the work a devotional experience. My aim is to transcend the mundane into the hyper-real where the threshold between emptiness and fullness is obscured. In such a state, birth and death recur in each moment, and the present becomes the link between livelihood and extinction.
I shall refer at this point to Kenya Hara’s statement to the reduction in form to nothingness:
“Striving to use ever-simpler forms to reach people’s inner selves and complex thoughts. Simplicity leads to emptiness, the space where people’s minds reside.”
The artwork is about the emotional, sensory perception of what we cannot recognize intellectually because it is too fine. As opposed to bare rational, logical, intelligibility, the aesthetic choices I have made require a quieting of one’s mind and an openness of one’s senses. These motifs must therefore necessarily abstain from figuration. It is not a searching for the truth. It is instead a distilling process to purify the role of the creator, the effect on the observer, and the creation itself. The embodiment of nothingness in expressly concrete terms engenders a serene clarity in the mind of both creator and observer.
From the perspective of the art historian, my works are related to ‘post-zero-art.’
“Zero ist die unmeßbare Zone, in der ein alter Zustand in einen unbekannten neuen übergeht” – Otto Piene
I have no other choice than to show nothing, or the pure energy behind things. I want to look behind things; behind the nature and intent of a thing. I am interested in the moment when things are unborn, nameless and devoid of commitment. Man: able to create, to change nature, to engineer life, and even to express himself through abstraction. But how do we create?